Even though the Atlanta Dream were eliminated from playoffs yesterday, they helped their coach reach the record books. Michael Cooper made history on Wednesday, as he became only the fifth coach in WNBA history to win 200 games.
While Atlanta may have been eliminated from postseason play when the Washington Mystics defeated the Indiana Fever last night, the Dream is still fighting for wins with the few games that they have left on the calendar, and they secured one tonight giving Michael Cooper his 200th WNBA win.
“We didn’t make the playoffs, but this was a great win for us tonight,” said Cooper.
Angel McCoughtry had a stellar performance coming off of the bench posting 15 of the team’s 26 points in the first quarter. Atlanta (14-18) had a 15-point lead going into the second quarter and they kept their distance from Los Angeles (14-19) the entire game running the floor, sinking basket after basket, and cruising to an easy 90-60 victory.
Cooper added, “Our offense was our best defense. I thought we did a good job of executing it tonight.”
McCoughtry went on to put up double digit points (23) with four steals and four rebounds. Tiffany Hayes also stepped up for the Dream posting double figures herself (15) and adding nine rebounds. Damiris Dantas and Sancho Lyttle brought down a combined 23 boards nearly half of the team’s 59 rebounds.
And with the win tonight, Atlanta has won both meetings with Los Angeles this year; however, the Sparks are an entirely different team when they are minus a particular player…Candace Parker. Los Angeles’s first-year head coach, Brian Agler, decided to bench Parker along with Nneka Ogwumike to keep his starters healthy heading into the playoffs.
Instead, the Sparks looked to Farhiya Abdi and Crystal Bradford for points in place of two of the league’s best forwards. Unfortunately, Abdi’s mere 12 points along with Bradford’s 4 weren’t enough to get the job done tonight. Jantel Lavender put up a team-high 14 and 6 rebounds.
As far as the regular season is concerned, Los Angeles seems to be coasting, giving their subs the playing time they need to ensure they’re ready for the playoffs. Once postseason play begins, adding Parker back to the lineup will be essential to the Sparks’ success when taking the court.
Parker has posted some impressive numbers (33 points in her last game against Tulsa) and put on the kind of performance you would expect from a former WNBA MVP in her last couple of games, and her peak couldn’t have come at a more perfect time after sitting out to rest the first 16 games this season.
This Friday, Atlanta dresses out in Philips Arena for the last time this season to host the Indiana Fever while Los Angeles heads to US Airways Center for their final regular season game against the Phoenix Mercury.