Dream-Fever Preview

The Associated Press

After a superb start to the year, the Atlanta Dream have struggled mightily over the last month.

Getting back on track could prove difficult with another road game in store.

Atlanta tries to avoid a sixth consecutive road loss Saturday night when it faces the Indiana Fever.

While the Dream (11-6) looked like a force to be reckoned with after opening a franchise-best 10-1, things haven't gone their way of late. Atlanta has averaged 70.5 points - 10.2 less than its first 11 contests - during a 1-5 stretch, with each of those losses coming on the road.

The Dream saw their woes continue last Saturday in an 82-76 loss at Phoenix. MVP candidate Angel McCoughtry had 33 points and eight assists but also committed a season high-tying seven turnovers for the second straight game. McCoughtry is averaging a WNBA-worst 4.3 turnovers per game.

Atlanta held an 18-6 edge in transition and outscored the Mercury 48-36 in the paint, but it shot 39.4 percent - including 2 for 17 from 3-point range. The Dream took a three-point lead into halftime before getting outscored 18-9 in the third quarter.

"I just thought we just kind of went a little cold in the third," 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."

While Atlanta dropped two of three to the Fever (10-11) in last season's Eastern Conference semifinals, it has controlled the series so far this year. After spoiling Indiana's home opener with an 86-77 victory May 31, the Dream cruised to a 76-60 win June 25.

McCoughtry averaged 22.5 points in those victories, including a 29-point effort at Bankers Life Fieldhouse.

"You don't stop Angel, that's not what you do," Fever coach Lin Dunn said. "What you want to try to do is try to limit her touches, make it hard for her, make somebody else beat you. I think it will be an interesting matchup for us."

The Fever completed a home-and-home sweep of conference-leading Chicago before falling 74-64 to Los Angeles on Thursday. Tamika Catchings had 17 points for Indiana, which trailed 27-13 after the first quarter.

"We've got to learn from this game, we've got to get better," said Dunn, whose team was outscored 50-30 in the paint. "We've got to get our mental and physical and emotional energy back, cause I thought we looked kind of lethargic the whole game.

"When we are not communicating and not reacting at a high level, it's tough for us."

The Fever, holding teams to a WNBA-low 68.1 points per game, allowed the Sparks to shoot 54.5 percent.

"We just got to get back to where we're doing the things defensively that we need to do," Lin said.

Indiana, 5-7 on its own court, hasn't suffered eight home losses since 2001.

The Fever continue to play without injured guard Katie Douglas (back), and Atlanta's Sancho Lyttle is also sidelined with a broken foot. Dream guard Tiffany Hayes (knee) could miss a seventh consecutive game.

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