Sparks Fall Flat Against Atlanta

Just 24 hours after escaping with a one-point win in New York, the Sparks came up short against the Atlanta Dream 79-73, snapping a three-game winning streak. Candace Parker got the opening tip and threw a lazer to a cutting Nneka Ogwumike for a layup to start the game, but it was a sluggish start for both teams, as the Sparks were playing the second night of a back-to-back and the Dream announced before the game All-Star forward Angel McCoughtry would miss the rest of the season with a torn ACL. After shooting just 41.2 percent from the field, the Sparks led 17-13 after the first quarter, largely thanks to the Dream shooting 31.2 percent in the opening frame.

The Dream took their first lead of the game at 20-19 on a layup from Imani McGee-Stafford midway through the second quarter. Both teams continued to struggle from the field, but Odyssey Sims was able to draw a foul and sink two free throws to put the Sparks back up 26-24 with 4:03 remaining in the first half. Neither team could separate themselves and a Renee Montgomery buzzer-beater gave the Dream a 36-33 lead at the half. Jessica Breland led Atlanta with eight first half points and Parker and Ogwumike both scored seven.

The Dream started the second half on a 7-3 run, continuing to push the pace. Their 43-36 lead was their biggest of the game. The Sparks responded with a 7-0 run capped by a Parker tip-in to tie the game at 43-43 before Montgomery made a spinning layup. Both teams exchanged baskets in a quarter that had much more intensity than the first half. Riquna Williams and Jessica Breland went back and forth scoring. The Dream closed the third on a 4-0 run to take a 63-55 lead into the fourth quarter.

The Sparks started the fourth quarter on a 7-0 run as a Williams 3-pointer and jumper cut the Dream lead to 63-62 with seven minutes remaining in the game. Alana Beard followed it up with her second steal of the game. But Atlanta responded by getting to the foul line to maintain a narrow lead. A Chelsea Gray drive tied the game at 68-68, but Alex Bentley responded with a 3-pointer to give the Dream a 71-68 lead. A Gray jumper pulled the Sparks to within 71-70 before Elizabeth Williams scored on a slip to the rum to put the Dream up 73-70. Parker missed two 3-pointers that would have tied the game in the last minute and Bentley hit a pull-up jumper with 15.4 remaining to give the Dream a 75-70 lead. The Sparks responded with a Williams triple to pull to 75-73 with 10.9 left, but Tiffany Hayes sunk two free throws with 4.4 seconds remaining to seal the game for Atlanta.