In a game that had both teams taking double-digit leads and then running off long stretches of points, it came down to the final seconds.
Diana Taurasi scored 28 points and the Mercury held off the Dream's fourth-quarter rally 82-76 on Saturday night to snap a three-game skid.
Phoenix led by 14 in the fourth quarter before Atlanta pulled within one with just more than a minute remaining.
''We can't have that,'' said the Mercury's DeWanna Bonner, who hit three of four free throws in the final 37 seconds. ''When we get a lead, we have to keep it. It made it hard on us but I think we faught very hard and got the win.''
Bonner finished with 23 points as Phoenix (10-10) won for just the second time in its last eight games.
Angel McCoughtry had 33 points and eight assists for Atlanta (11-6), which was playing for the first time since July 24. Erika de Souza added 16 points and 11 rebounds as Atlanta, second in the Eastern Conference, lost for the fifth time in its last six.
''They just got to the line,'' said Angel McCoughtry, who led the Dream with 33 points and eight assists. ''You know what I'm saying? We didn't get to the line like we should have. They made free throws and that was it.''
Atlanta dropped to 0-5 on the road against Western Conference teams this season. Phoenix improved to 6-1 against the East and beat Atlanta for the first time since Aug. 11, 2011.
Taurasi's free throws with 6:21 remaining gave Phoenix a 71-57 lead but Atlanta rallied, getting layups from de Souza and McCoughtry after Phoenix turnovers to pull to 77-76 with 1:06 remaining.
Taurasi and Bonner then made five of six free throws in the final minute to help secure Phoenix's win.
Both teams had double-digit leads in the game and back-to-back runs in the second quarter to keep it close. However, Atlanta missed 14 of 17 shots in the third quarter as Phoenix took a 58-52 advantage going into the final period.
''We took them out of their offensive sets and they weren't comfortable,'' Phoenix coach Corey Gaines said. ''It turned into a 1-on-1 game and that's kind of hard against the zone.''
McCoughtry, the league's second-leading scorer behind Taurasi at 20.3 points per game, had 22 by halftime but shot 4 for 17 from the field in the second half.
''I just thought we just kind of went a little cold in the third,'' Dream coach Fred Williams said. ''(We) got a little stagnant there some. We were just trying to find our way with a few players to get a nice combination in there. When that happened it happened around the fourth quarter and that's when we made our run.''
The teams traded runs in the second quarter as Atlanta took a 43-40 lead at the break.
Phoenix went on a 19-2 run, scoring 12 straight to take a 40-29 lead with 2:55 left in the half. But McCoughtry scored seven during a 14-0 run to end the quarter that gave the Dream their three-point advantage.
Taurasi, the leading scorer in the WNBA, had 15 by halftime for the Mercury, who had 10 turnovers in the first quarter, leading to 12 Dream points. Atlanta took advantage of Phoenix's miscues to score 10 fast-break points on its way to a 24-17 lead after one.
Atlanta has another week off before playing six games in a 10-day stretch later in the month.
- Sports & Recreation
- Diana Taurasi
- Phoenix Mercury
- Atlanta Dream