After a dismal inaugural season, the Atlanta Dream are moving closer to securing a playoff berth. Their play on the road, though, could prevent them from reaching the postseason.
Atlanta continues its difficult season-ending stretch when it visits the Los Angeles Sparks on Tuesday night.
The Dream went 4-30 last season, setting a league record by losing their first 17 games. This year, they are 15-14 and in second place in the Eastern Conference, where the six teams battling for the final three playoff spots are separated by three games with less than two weeks left in the season.
Atlanta may have a hard time securing one of those postseason spots as it is in the midst of playing six of seven on the road, where it has gone 4-9. The Dream dropped the first two games of their five-game trip, losing 91-84 in double overtime to Seattle on Saturday.
They have lost three of four since Chamique Holdsclaw went out with a right knee injury. The veteran forward, tied for the team lead with 13.9 points per game, underwent arthroscopic surgery on the knee last Tuesday and is day to day.
Against the Storm, top overall draft pick Angel McCoughtry had 16 points to lead Atlanta. McCoughtry, averaging 12.4 points, scored 21.8 over her last five. She had 23 points and five steals in a 91-87 loss to Los Angeles (15-14) on Aug. 23.
Candace Parker led the way for the Sparks in that game, scoring 23 and adding eight rebounds. The 2008 Rookie of the Year and MVP then had 21 points in a 75-63 win over Chicago last Tuesday before sitting out Thursday’s 98-90 loss to Phoenix because of undisclosed personal matters.
Parker, who mentioned in her Twitter account that her 3-month-old daughter, Lailaa, was sick Wednesday night, returned Sunday and had 20 points, 13 rebounds and four assists in a 91-81 victory over Connecticut.
The Sparks, in third place in the West, have won seven of eight.
“I don’t think I’m there yet,” Parker said. “I feel like I’m 80-85 percent right now. I think we’ve got two or three more weeks before the playoffs start so I think by then, I’ll feel like I’m back to where I was last year.”
Tina Thompson, tied with Parker for second on the team with 12.5 points per game, is also hoping to get closer to being 100 percent. The 6-foot-2 forward has been hampered by sprained ligaments in her thumb since July 11.
“Because those ligaments are weak now, I have to have it taped to support it,” Thompson said after scoring 21 on Sunday. “If not, then my thumb has a mind of its own.”