Dream-Mercury Preview

The Associated PressJuly 6, 2012

The Atlanta Dream started their lengthy road stretch with a win but couldn't keep that momentum going. A matchup with a struggling Western Conference opponent might help them bounce back.

The Dream will try to improve to 5-0 against West teams by sending the Phoenix Mercury to a season high-tying third straight defeat Saturday night.

Atlanta defeated Tulsa 102-92 on June 29 in the first of eight consecutive road games but blew a 14-point lead in Sunday's 71-69 loss to Chicago. The Sky's Sylvia Fowles hit the go-ahead free throw with 33 seconds left, and the Dream (7-8) missed their final two shots as their season-high three-game win streak ended.

Despite missing 16 of 24 shots, Angel McCoughtry finished with a team-best 21 points in the losing effort. The future U.S. Olympian is among the league scoring leaders with a career-high 22.6 points per game but finished with a season-low 10 against Phoenix (4-11) on May 31 while dealing with a sore left knee.

Her teammates, however, picked up the slack during an 81-65 victory. The Dream had four other players in double figures with Sancho Lyttle and Cathrine Kraayeveld scoring 12 points apiece.

Phoenix played without Diana Taurasi and Penny Taylor in that game, and both players remain out for this one. Taurasi is dealing with an injured hip flexor she hopes doesn't keep her out of the Olympics and Taylor is done for the season after tearing a ligament in her left knee.

Candice Dupree has also been sidelined since June 17 because of a bruised left knee.

DeWanna Bonner has tried to carry the scoring load by averaging 21.5 points, 9.5 more than during any of her other three seasons, and she had a career-high 38 in San Antonio on Tuesday.

The Mercury, though, blew a 13-point lead in an 82-81 defeat and wrapped up their road trip at 1-3.

"I think our effort and energy is never questioned, but tonight, despite everything that happened, it came down to the last play. No matter how we fought, we came up short,'' said forward Charde Houston, who had 19 points after matching a career high with 26 in a 90-77 loss to Washington on Sunday.

Bonner had a team-best 22 points and 10 rebounds in the loss to Atlanta earlier this season, and led the way with 25 points and 13 boards off the bench during a 109-95 home win over the Dream on Aug. 11.

The Mercury, who have lost three in a row twice this season, also benefited from a combined 62 points from Taurasi, Taylor and Dupree.