Atlanta (7-7) at Chicago (7-5)

By KATE HEDLIN, STATS Writer Saturday, Jun 30, 2012 Kickoff: 6:00 pm EDT Sun Jul 1, 2012

The Atlanta Dream couldn’t have asked for a better start to a lengthy road stretch - at least offensively.

Defensively, the Dream may have an easier time Sunday when they face a Chicago Sky team missing leading scorer Epiphanny Prince.

Atlanta (7-7) has put behind a slow start, winning a season-high three straight to move within a game of slumping Chicago (7-5) for third place in the Eastern Conference.

The Dream are coming off a 102-92 win over Tulsa on Friday - their highest-scoring game since a 105-93 win over New York in the 2010 conference finals. Angel McCoughtry scored 24 points and Armintie Price added 19.

McCoughtry’s performance was a good sign for Atlanta, which opened an eight-game stretch away from home Friday. McCoughtry, who averages a league-leading 22.8 points, had recently missed two games with a knee injury and shot 38.2 percent in her first two games back. She was 8 of 16 from the field Friday.

Despite the big offensive numbers, the Dream weren’t happy with their defensive effort after giving up an average of 65.8 points in their previous five games. They allowed the Shock to pull within seven after leading by 24 points in the third quarter.

“We let up a little in the second half,” coach Marynell Meadors said. “When you get a big lead like that, it’s hard to sustain it.”

Atlanta did blow a significant lead over Chicago in the first meeting this season. The Dream were ahead by 22 in the first quarter, but the Sky rallied for a 94-92 overtime win June 2 behind Prince, who hit a tying 3-pointer at the end of regulation and added eight points in the extra period.

McCoughtry and Prince both finished with 33 points. McCoughtry went 17 of 17 from the free-throw line.

Atlanta won’t have to contend with Prince on Sunday as she’s out with a fractured foot. The Sky were off to the best start in franchise history before Prince went down but now have lost four straight.

Chicago fell 84-81 to Phoenix on Friday. Swin Cash scored 16 points and Shay Murphy added 15, but second-leading scorer Sylvia Fowles was limited to 11 - nearly eight below her season average.

Fowles made a season-low three field goals in 12 attempts.

“I don’t think Sylvia worked as hard as she needed to work today to get the ball,” coach Pokey Chatman said. “It’s not an easy task but you’ve got to outwork people and use your quickness.”

With Prince out, Fowles likely needs to have a much better game for Chicago to defeat the Dream. She had 20 points and 19 rebounds in the victory over Atlanta four weeks ago.

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