The Atlanta Dream nearly pulled off a huge victory on an emotional night.
The Chicago Sky were happy to get a win of any kind after their longest losing streak of the year.
The home team has taken the last five matchups between these teams, including all three this season heading into Friday night’s contest in Atlanta.
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Atlanta (15-7) fell 112-108 in double-overtime at Minnesota on Tuesday. The contest came one day after the club announced that coach Michael Cooper will be away from the team due to surgery for early stage tongue cancer. Cooper’s full recovery is expected.
Assistant coach Karleen Thompson took charge for the rematch of last year’s WNBA finals. The Dream closed the fourth quarter on an 18-4 run to force overtime before falling as they nearly overcame Minnesota star Maya Moore’s 48 points – the second-highest total in league history.
”As a group, to go through what they’re going through and remain focused, and to come in here and play in this type of environment and play so well, I’m really proud of this team,” Thompson said.
Atlanta, which is 10-2 at home, is in good shape to capture the No. 1 seed in the Eastern Conference with a five-game lead over Indiana and Washington.
Chicago (9-14) was the top seed a year ago but the club has dropped into last place with star forward Elena Delle Donne out due to Lyme disease and point guard Courtney Vandersloot out with a knee injury.
The Sky will try to end a four-game road slide after snapping a six-game losing streak with Tuesday’s 60-57 victory over Indiana. They made 16 of 17 foul shots compared to 9 of 20 made by the Fever to overcome their second-lowest scoring effort of the season.
”I told them we had to do the dirty work, rebounding, getting to the free-throw line, staying connected to the defensive message,” coach Pokey Chatman said. ”Maybe it was ugly if you’re a fan. It was beautiful for me.”
Sylvia Fowles had 21 points and 10 rebounds for her sixth straight double-double. She will be called upon to help battle a frontcourt that has helped Atlanta post a WNBA-best average rebound margin of plus-2.9.
Fowles was out after hip surgery for the first two meetings with the Dream, an 87-73 win May 24 and a 97-59 defeat June 7 that was Atlanta’s most lopsided win in franchise history.
The Dream won 81-79 in overtime in the most recent matchup July 13. Angel McCoughtry matched season highs with 33 points and 10 rebounds while Fowles had 17 and 14 but missed a layup at the regulation buzzer.