McCoughtry leads Dream to 70-58 win over Indiana
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By GEORGE HENRY
ATLANTA (AP) A sore left knee is keeping Atlanta's Angel McCoughtry from playing at full capacity.
Even though the WNBA's scoring leader is still the focal point of the Dream, McCoughtry wonders if her knee will hurt for the rest of the season.
"It takes a little time to recover, but it's getting there," she said. "I just want to get my explosiveness back and things like that so I can get up and down the floor. I look like grandma out there a little bit."
McCoughtry scored 22 points, Sancho Lyttle added 17 and the Atlanta Dream won consecutive games for the first time this season with a 70-58 victory over the Indiana Fever on Tuesday.
Tamika Catchings missed her first six shots from the field and finished with a season-low eight points for the Fever. Indiana did not have anyone score in double figures. Katie Douglas and Jessica Davenport each also finished with eight points.
McCoughtry was held without a point in the first quarter, but was able to find her rhythm and scored 18 over a stretch during the second and third quarters. The game's early 12 p.m. tipoff caught players on both teams off guard.
"Once we got the blood pumping," McCoughtry said, "we were a little bit better."
The Fever took their biggest lead at eight in the final minute of the first quarter, but their offense all but disappeared - going 1-for-15 from the field - in the second.
Cathrine Kraayeveld's lane runner ended a 19-1 Atlanta run at the 4:37 mark of the second that put the Dream up 29-19.
Indiana, which won the first two series matchups with Atlanta this year, dropped to 0-4 when trailing at halftime.
"It was noon, and we didn't come with the energy and focus you need to play," Douglas said. "I think we handled the first quarter well, but we know the game of basketball is runs and lulls and we had way too many lulls."
Dream guard Lindsey Harding finished with six points and did not start for the second straight game as Keita Swanier took her place in the lineup.
Catchings, the 2011 league MVP, dropped to 2-for-9 from the field when she missed an 18-footer late in the third.
Lyttle followed on the next possession with a long jumper that gave the Dream a 55-40 lead.
"I felt like we got a lot of good shots," Catchings said. "We just weren't hitting them today, and we would take the ball to the basket and not be able to finish. It was very bad for us."
Indiana coach Lin Dunn, whose team lost in the Eastern Conference finals to Atlanta last year, held her starters out for most of the fourth quarter.
The Fever (7-5) had won two straight and three of four. They were out-rebounded 41-29.
"We need work on having other players get hot and if our shots aren't falling, we've got to do a better job defensively, with transition, rebounds, taking care of the ball," Douglas said. "If the offense isn't flowing, we've got to find a way to improve on other areas of the game."
Atlanta (6-7) plays its next seven games on the road and with the Olympic break coming next month, the Dream's next home game is Aug. 22 against Chicago.
But stopping an opponent as potentially difficult as Catchings, who ranks fifth on the WNBA's career list with 74 double-doubles, should give Atlanta some confidence. When they last faced Catchings on May 27, she scored 25 points and pulled down a season-high 12 rebounds in a 16-point Indiana victory.
"We basically know what she wants to do with the ball when she catches it," Atlanta rookie center Aneika Henry said. "She wants to penetrate and go hard to the basket, so we just doubled down on her and helped out with Sancho on her and stuff like that."
The Dream built a big enough lead in the fourth that McCoughtry, the league's No. 1 overall draft pick three years ago, only had to play 4:28 of the final period. She needs all the rest she can get.
"I'm just getting old," she said jokingly while standing in a postgame hot tub. "I'm not 18, 19 like I used to be, so things at 25 are a little different now."
Notes: Pat Summitt, Tennessee's head coach emeritus, attended the game. Former Lady Volunteers assistant Mickie DeMoss is currently a Fever assistant coach and Tamika Catchings was a Tennessee All-American. Summitt disclosed she had been diagnosed with early-onset dementia, Alzheimer's type, last August. Catchings became emotional after the game when asked about Summitt sitting courtside, only saying "it's always great to see Coach" before walking away in tears.
Updated June 26, 2012