Dream top Fever 76-60 behind De Souza's 17

GEORGE HENRY (Associated Press)

ATLANTA (AP) -- Even when Angel McCoughtry doesn't lead the Atlanta offense, the Dream are creating ways to win.

McCoughtry led the WNBA in scoring last year and ranks second this season, but the Dream aren't relying solely on their best player.

Erika de Souza scored 17 points and McCoughtry added 16 to lead the surging Dream to a 76-60 victory Tuesday over the struggling Indiana Fever in a matinee game. The Dream, winners of four straight, lead the WNBA with a franchise-best 8-1 record.

McCoughtry had a 34-point performance on Sunday in the one-point win against the Connecticut Sun.

''I don't think I would've had the energy to put up 34 points today,'' McCoughtry said. ''We flew back yesterday and practiced. It was a lot, but it was a good game. The girls played well.''

Shavonte Zellous finished with 18 points and Karima Christmas had 16 for Indiana, which dropped to 1-7.

The Fever are without scoring threats Tamika Catchings and Katie Douglas, who have back injuries. The seven-game losing streak is Indiana's longest since its inaugural season in 2000.

The defending WNBA champions had just eight available players, with Catchings sidelined for the second straight game and Douglas out for the sixth. Those two combine for an average of 34 points, and the Fever matched a season low for scoring on Tuesday.

Indiana coach Lin Dunn expects Catchings will be available at the end of next week and she hopes Douglas, a five-time All-Star, will return from a bulging disc by mid-July.

''I think over the next three weeks, you'll see at least three players come back,'' Dunn said. ''Catchings, (Layshia) Clarendon and (Erin) Phillips. Hopefully, (Catchings) will be back by the end of the next week. Katie Douglas and (Jeanette) Pohlen should be back next month some time.''

Atlanta had a 36-30 lead at halftime and outscored the Fever by 10 points in the third quarter.

The Dream took their first double-digit lead at 32-22 on Jasmine Thomas' 3 with 3:27 left in the second quarter.

Indiana cut the lead to three early in the third on Christmas' three-point play, but Thomas added another 3 a few minutes later to make it 46-36. The Dream's biggest lead was 19, a mark first reached on Tiffany Hayes' 20-footer in the final minute of the third.

De Souza added 10 rebounds and four blocks. McCoughtry, who leads the WNBA with an average of 3.9 steals per game, tied a career high with seven. Thomas, Aneika Henry and Alex Bentley each finished with eight points for Atlanta.

''We have those type players in transition who can run out and get those kind of baskets,'' Dream coach Fred Williams said. ''We're also starting to share the ball a little bit more in halfcourt sets. We're still learning.''

Briann January and Jasmine Hassell each scored seven for the Fever.

''We'll get some shooters back,'' Dunn said. ''Douglas and Pohlen and Phillips are worth 30 points, easy. That would be nice, wouldn't it? Just ride it out. There's nothing else you can do but ride it out.''

For the Dream, they're focused on taking away opponents' passing lanes, forcing turnovers and pushing the ball up the floor. Atlanta tied a season-high with 16 steals, not surprising for a defense that leads the league in that category.

''We have to realize, with the season we're having this year, we can't come out lackadaisical,'' McCoughtry said. ''We have to come out like a championship team, playing hard from the jump. Fortunately, our defense picked it up in the second quarter when we held them to 10 points. That helped us get a good lead.''

Atlanta improved to 5-0 at home, while the Fever fell to 1-3 on the road.

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