A Nightmare for the Dream

By The Associated Press
Updated: September 15, 2010

ATLANTA — The Atlanta Dream have no time to waste after two close losses to the Seattle Storm in the WNBA finals. Sleep can wait.

The Dream took a redeye flight from Seattle after Tuesday night’s 87-84 loss, then drove straight from the Atlanta airport to their practice court early Wednesday for a short workout.

To rally from the 2-0 deficit in the best-of-five series, the Atlanta players say they must do a better job against Seattle’s Lauren Jackson, who scored 26 points in each of the Storm’s opening wins. Game 3 of the series is Thursday night in Atlanta.

“It’s very important to slow her down, at least make her work harder for her shots,” said Atlanta’s Iziane Castro Marques. ‘We know she’s a great player and she’s going to bring it every time. We just have to make her work and if she makes it, she’s a great player. Nothing we can do about that.”

Jackson made 13 of 17 free throws Tuesday night after hurting the Dream with her four 3-pointers in the series opener.

“She’s a great player,” Atlanta’s Sancho Lyttle said. “You try to eliminate (3s), and she got it from free throws. … The next game we’ve got to try to do something different, put the two together and hopefully her points will be less.”

Jackson, the league MVP, said she was worried about playing in Atlanta after the Storm won two games in Seattle by a combined margin of five points.

“At this point in time I don’t feel overly confident in going to Atlanta,” Jackson said after Tuesday night’s game. “I think that home-court advantage obviously plays a huge part in the series, and especially going back to Atlanta with the way they are playing it’s going to be really difficult for us to get the win.”

Dream scoring leader Angel McCoughtry was on board with that. “Yes, it will be,” McCoughtry said Wednesday. “I agree. That’s something we agree on.”

McCoughtry had 21 points but made only 7 of 23 shots from the field in Game 2.

Atlanta coach Marynell Meadors wanted McCoughtry to drive to the basket, but the second-year player kept missing from the outside until scoring five points in the final 30 seconds.

“She settled for jumpers,” Meadors said, adding the same “good and the bad” of McCoughtry’s game also led to a WNBA playoff-record 42 points in the Eastern Conference finals against the New York Liberty.

“It’s just her shots were not falling,” Meadors said. “If we do a better job of trying to push the ball a little more, and that comes with rebounding, then we can kick it out and run.”

A frustrated McCoughtry said Wednesday she had no room to drive for layups.

“Well, every time I drove to the basket, they clogged the lane,” McCoughtry said. “There was nowhere to go. … The shots just didn’t go in. It happens.”

The Storm remained in Seattle on Tuesday night for a Wednesday practice before their flight to Atlanta. Seattle’s Swin Cash said the Storm will continue to focus on containing the Dream’s running game.

“They’re a team that thrives off of chaos,” Cash said. “Getting out in transition, making turnovers. They don’t want to sit and do a half-court game.

Their game is to get out in transition, they have athletes who want to use their athleticism to make plays.”

Atlanta guard Armintie Price suffered an ankle injury on Tuesday night.

Meadors said Price’s status for Thursday is uncertain. X-rays were negative.

The injury to Price could lead to Meadors opting for a bigger lineup. Erika de Souza, a 6-foot-5 forward who had 11 points in a backup role on Tuesday night, could see increased time in Game 3.