Lyttle leads Atlanta over Sun, 71-57, Dream keeps playoff hopes alive, Milton-Jones hits career mark
Fresh off of a record-breaking outing at Connecticut on Sunday, the Atlanta Dream (11-16) returned home to defeat their New England opponents at Philips Arena, 71-57, Tuesday afternoon.
The Dream beat the Sun three straight times following today’s victory and captured the season series between the franchises, 3-2. Atlanta leads the all-time series vs. Connecticut 17-16 and are 13-3 vs. the Sun at home.
Forward DeLisha Milton-Jones appeared in her 496th career game, tying Tina Thompson for the most games played in WNBA history. The 17-year league veteran signed a contract to play for the Dream for the rest of the season late last week.
“It shows my longevity that’s what it shows,” said Milton-Jones about breaking the record. “It shows know matter who you are if you take care of yourself you can have longevity and you are able to have awards like that. I just thank God that I have played for coaches that have complete faith in me and my ability to be able to put me on the court to achieve something like that.”
While Atlanta is last in the Eastern Conference, they are still battling to get into playoff contention and pass fifth place Connecticut. They are four games behind fourth place Washington.
During the game, the Dream led from the outset, opening on a 10-0 run and earning a 17-9 lead by the end of the first quarter. Connecticut’s nine points in that quarter were the fewest allowed by the Dream in the opening quarter this season.
The Sun, still beset by injuries to key players, could not keep up. The franchise’s injury list includes:
- Alex Bentley (ankle)
- Alyssa Thomas (shoulder)
- Elizabeth Williams (knee)
- Chiney Ogwumike (knee – out for the season)
The Dream’s injured players include Cierra Burdick (foot) and Roneeka Hodges (calf).
At the half, the Dream led 33-18 with 13 points and five rebounds from Sancho Lyttle. The Dream continued to dominate in the third, amassing a23-point lead at -6:42. However, the Sun performed better overall in the third. The Dream outscored them by just one point in the period, 24-23. At the end of the third, the Dream led, 57-41.
Sancho Lyttle led the Dream with 17 points and seven rebounds. Shoni Schimmel finished with 15 points and Angel McCoughtry contributed 11 points plus five rebounds.
Shekinna Stricklen paced Connecticut with 14 points while Chelsea Gray added 12 points plus six rebounds.
Connecticut heads home to host the Phoenix Mercury on Thursday. Atlanta goes on the road to face the second-place Indiana Fever on Friday.
- Sancho Lyttle’s 17 points were her first double-digit scoring effort since July 7 at Tulsa and her eighth this season.
- The Dream have won four of their last six games after dropping eight of the previous nine.
- The win marked the 197th all-time victory in Atlanta head coach Michael Cooper’s career – three shy of becoming the fifth coach in WNBA history to reach 500 career wins.
- Shoni Schimmel has registered double-figure points in five of the last six games overall following today’s 15-point effort.
- Atlanta played without the Roneeka Hodges for the third straight game.
- Atlanta defeated Connecticut three times over the last 10 days.
- The Sun made just one field goal in the opening quarter (1-or-13) – which marked franchise low for a single quarter.
- Connecticut’s five made field goals in the first half tied a franchise all-time low for a half.
- Connecticut bench outscored its starters 34-23.
- The Sun have dropped each of their last five games overall – with three of those five losses to Atlanta.
Atlanta head Coach Michael Cooper
On Milton-Jones tying the record for games played
Dee has been a warrior in this league for a long time and I’m just happy it was here she had an opportunity to do it. I have been with her for a long time now, our time out in Los Angeles so to see her set that record and for myself and Coach Thomas who is another coach that has been with Dee for a long time was gratifying. We were happy to see that. We have some more games to add on to that and make it hard for that record to be broken.
Are you in a must win situation to make the playoffs…
Every game is big for us and we have no games off and again we are fighting to make the playoffs. It’s an outside chance but this is basketball anything can happen in this league. Somebody can go on a five game losing streak…Chicago..Indiana and so.
If you guys keep on playing like you played today do you guys at least think we can put some heat on some people….
We can definitely put some heat on to some people and we can definitely be a spoiler for a lot of people.
Dream forward Sancho Lyttle
Lowest points at the half in franchise history. What do you think defense did differently this game than in previous games?
We were just sticking to the game plan. We were hitting shots and running back because you know when you are hitting shots you play harder. We were more into it today. I thought we would have came off flat because it was an 11:30 game but I guess not.
Dream forward Delisha Milton-Jones
Was there a specific play tonight that you will remember as part of tying the record…
No just clocking in. Just hearing my name called to go into the game. In the second quarter I think that’s the thing I will remember, but records are to be broken and to break one made by Tina Thomas says a lot.
When you went to check in did the scorer say anything to you…
No, but I have been hearing rumblings about it all week. It just… I love the game another day another opportunity. But now after the game I can celebrate the fact that I did something pretty cool. So I’m happy about it.
Will you celebrate tonight. Will you do anything special…
Just rest and recover.
You’ve been in the league a long time, you’ve played a lot of games what is it going to take for the Dream to win out and make the playoffs…
What we did tonight and the last time we played Connecticut and even in our lost against New York we did a great job of executing offensively and moving the ball. We have talent and I think we can score with anyone else in this league. So once we execute on the offensive end we buckle down defensively and execute our game plan we have a very good chance of putting ourselves in a position where we can have a playoff push I hope.
Sun head coach Anne Donovan
On today’s performance…
“[Our] Defense was a whole lot better than the last two games. They [The Dream] scored 102 on us last time and 90 before that, so I felt the defense was something we were better at than the last two times.”
“It was a struggle, they [The Dream] were getting to the paint off penetration and there were post plays that we didn’t respond to.”
“The girls just need to keep fighting, we have limited bodies now… we’ll just have to keep putting ourselves there.”
Sun guard Chelsea Gray
On today’s offense…
”Offensively we were not moving the ball and we need to play with each other better.”
On tonight’s defense…
“We know Atlanta likes to run, but we could have done better at finding the open shooters and stopping the ball early.”
On team’s overall performance…
“We are just fighting for our pride right now and we aren’t really sure about playoffs, but we just want to leave our mark on the season and play for us.”
Sun guard Jasmine Thomas
On today’s game…
“Overall we had a good defensive game, but we couldn’t get ourselves together and find a rhythm in offense… even when we had gotten some stops we still couldn’t get going.”
“We had some fresh legs out there, Chelsea played great and had everybody going.”
Not having Alex Bentley (ankle injury) today…
“We didn’t have her last game either and we don’t know when she will be back, but we will just have to stay focused on the people we have with us.”
Sun G/F Shekinna Stricklen
On what could’ve been done differently…
“I think our overall energy. I know in the first half I didn’t really have a lot of energy, so we have to start having more energy from the beginning to the end of a game.”
Despite loss anything positive…
“We kept fighting, we didn’t give up and that’s a plus… we could’ve easily given up, but we didn’t.”
By the Numbers
Points in the Paint: Sun 14, Dream 36
Second Chance Points: Sun 8, Dream 10
Fastbreak Points: Sun 6, Dream 10
Biggest Lead: Sun 0, Dream 23
Lead Changes: 0
Times Tied: 0