Dream-Mystics Preview


Having already provided a big boost since returning from knee surgery, Tiffany Hayes will try to help the Atlanta Dream avoid a franchise-worst road losing streak with another high-scoring effort against the Washington Mystics.

The Dream will also seek a fourth straight win and their ninth in a row over Washington on Friday night.

Hayes missed seven games after injuring her knee and returned Aug. 11 but failed to score in double figures in her first three games back in action. She made up for it in the past two contests, tying a career high with 23 points in a 76-58 rout of Washington on Sunday and scoring another 23 on Tuesday in an 88-75 victory over Minnesota.

The Dream went 1-6 without Hayes, among the league's top-scoring reserves at 11.7 points per game, as their bench averaged 13.9. In Hayes' 16 games, Atlanta's bench is averaging 24.4 points.

"I'm feeling good just to know that I can come off the bench and be a spark for my team," said Hayes, 14 for 20 from the field over the past two games. "Go out there and help defensively then turn around and make it happen on offense as well."

Hayes now looks to help the Dream (14-9) halt a seven-game slide on the road. All but one of those defeats came without Hayes, though she's averaging just 8.4 points away from home.

The Dream, however, have won their last three visits to Washington (12-15) and eight straight overall in the series. They have claimed three matchups this season by an average of 13.0 points, including a 73-63 win at the Verizon Center on June 2.

While Atlanta sits second in the Eastern Conference, the Mystics are fourth and only one game ahead of New York for the final playoff spot. Washington also visits Atlanta on Wednesday.

"We've got a tough stretch down at the end (of the season)," guard Ivory Latta said. "We've just got to do the little things that will get us over the hump."

Latta led the Mystics with 12 points in Sunday's loss to Atlanta and scored 12 again Tuesday but was 3 for 10 from the field in a 79-73 defeat to East-leading Chicago. Washington shot below 35 percent in both losses.

The Mystics had an eight-point lead late in the second quarter Tuesday, but they missed 15 of 16 shots in third and didn't connect on 15 straight attempts in one stretch during the second half.

"Didn't shoot the ball well in the third," Latta said. "Got to deal with it and be ready for Friday."

Kia Vaughn had a season-high 21 points but is averaging 6.1 this season. She's scored a combined 14 in the three losses to Atlanta.