Merucry, Dream meet after wins over Lynx

Two teams coming off impressive wins over the defending champion Minnesota Lynx collide Sunday when Diana Taurasi and the Phoenix Mercury visit the Atlanta Dream at McCamish Pavilion.

Taurasi drained five 3-pointers and finished with a season-high 29 points in the Mercury’s 95-85 win at Minnesota on Friday. Phoenix post Brittney Griner filled the stat sheet with 21 points, nine rebounds, six assists and three blocks. Griner posted her 500th career block in the game, making her the fastest player in WNBA history to reach that milestone.

Mercury coach Sandy Brondello also reached a career milestone with her 100th win in the WNBA.

The win snapped the Mercury’s three-game losing streak and was their first over the Lynx in the last 13 meetings.

The Dream also ended a long losing streak to Minnesota on Tuesday when Angel McCoughtry knocked down a game-winning 3-pointer from the corner with 1.5 seconds to play. The Lynx missed a desperation heave at the buzzer and the Dream prevailed 76-74, snapping a nine-game losing streak to Minnesota.

“I don’t think anything like that is ever rehearsed. It’s just something that happens from hard work and practice. That’s just not rehearsed. That’s what makes it so great,” McCoughtry told highposthoops.com. “You don’t think. I think if you think, then that’s how you mess up. You just got to let it fly and not think.”

While McCoughtry hit the big shot, Dream coach Nicki Collen said her squad’s defense was the key to the win and the overall season.

Jessica Breland had a big block on a late Minnesota possession to give the Dream the ball back with seconds left and setting up McCoughtry’s game-winner. Atlanta leads the WNBA in steals at 10.8 per game.

“When I took this job, I knew that this team wasn’t a great 3-point shooting team,” Collen said. “We’ve tried to add shooting, but the reality is, we’ve got to go with what we’re good at, and you’re not going to take our athleticism away.”

The Mercury have won three of the last four against the Dream but did drop their last visit to McCamish Pavilion, 99-91 in overtime last season.

Dream star Tiffany Hayes needs just nine more points to reach 2,500 for career, but Collen said she is more proud of the veteran forward’s defense.

“I cannot say enough about Tiffany Hayes’ defense,” Collen said.