Dream host Mystics in Eastern Conference matchup (Jul 29, 2017)

BY AP • July 29, 2017

The Atlanta Dream lost a hard-fought battle with the best team in the WNBA on Friday night and the Washington Mystics got an unexpected night off.

The two Eastern Conference rivals meet Sunday afternoon in Atlanta.

On Friday against the powerful Minnesota Lynx, the Dream rallied from a 14-point deficit and were down only four at halftime. But Atlanta faded in the second half and lost 90-80 to Minnesota, which owns the best record in the WNBA at 18-2.

"We got a good chance to gauge ourselves and where we are," Dream coach Michael Cooper said after Friday's loss. "I like the fact that we hung in there. I think what showed was our youth, and we've still got a long way to go."

The Mystics arrive having won three of four, including a dramatic 100-96 overtime win over the Dream on July 19. Washington was slated to take on the Connecticut Sun on Friday, but a leak at the Verizon Center forced the game to be postponed.

The Mystics came back from 21 points down in the overtime win over Atlanta. Guard Kristi Toliver scored 29 points and hit seven 3-pointers to fuel the comeback. Washington didn't take the lead in the game until overtime.

"It was one of those wins where you look dead in the water in the first half and we're trying to get out of our funk, and we did it mainly because we got stops on the defensive end," Mystics coach Michael Thibault told The Washington Post after the win.

Atlanta responded to that deflating loss with its own come-from-behind overtime win over Phoenix last week before falling to Minnesota on Friday.

"We're always going to fight back no matter how far down we are," Atlanta All-Star forward Tiffany Hayes said.

Washington's leading scorer, Elena Delle Donne, returned to the lineup last week after missing two games with an ankle injury. She scored 29 pointers in her return, helping the Mystics knock off the San Antonio Stars 85-76 on Tuesday.

While Delle Donne is back, Washington's backcourt is not a full strength. Guard Natasha Cloud will miss Sunday's game with a foot injury.