ATLANTA — There was not a better time for the Atlanta Dream to snap their five-game losing skid than on Superhero Day at State Farm Arena Wednesday morning.
Led by Tiffany Hayes’ career night where she eclipsed 3,000 career points and a season-high 28 points, the Dream were able to give the children in attendance much to cheer for and remained superheroes in their eyes. It is worth mentioning, though that much like the past, Atlanta got off to a rough start that forced head coach Nicki Collen to call an early timeout.
“We obviously got off to a similar start to some that we have gotten off to,” Collen said. “But when I called the timeout down 6-0 and really challenged them, I think we were pretty good from then on out. After a game that we turned the ball over 21 times, to turn around against Indiana and only turn it over six times is a testament to a lot of what we talked about today. Our execution was at a different level, without question.”
Shortly after Collen put a halt to Indiana’s scoring run, the Dream narrowed the deficit to one point. Hayes scored the first seven points for the Dream and kept her team afloat. She finished the first half with 18 points.
“We just finally hit some shots,” Hayes said. “We were really in sync on the offensive end for the most part. We moved the ball well. The coach said the ball had a lot of energy, and all of us were knocking down shots today. We’ve been putting in a lot of work trying to fix the problem. Lord knows we’ve all been wanting to knock down shots because they’ve been open, and today’s the start of a new day.”
Collen had high praise for the veteran guard who is the heart and soul of this Dream team.
“When Tiffany plays like that, we all saw what first-team All-WNBA Tiffany Hayes looks like or can look like,” Collen said to reporters. “She’s aggressive at the rim. … You saw her start to give it up, get to the rim. Understanding — we’ve spent so much time in video on, ‘Did someone square you up as you drive, and you need to give it up? Or is someone on your hip and you can go finish it?’”
The second half was more fluid on both ends of the floor for the Dream, and other assets such as Renee Montgomery who finished the game with 16 points nine assists and six rebounds and Elizabeth Williams (10) gave the Dream (2-5) a much-needed boost.
“I think we were due,” Collen said. “I think we were due for a good quarter. I do think this team still believes. I don’t think we ever lost the locker room. … I think what we’ve battled so far this year is kind of the expectation and the idea of you still have to grind, and you still have to make progress every day and compete on every possession. That’s what we’ve done.”
Montgomery played significant minutes down the stretch and showed her ability to be a floor general. She often found teammates running the lanes, which led to easy baskets in transition. Montgomery also found her stroke from 3-point land, too. She finished the game shooting 4-9 from beyond the arc, an impressive 66.7 percent.
Atlanta has a challenging schedule ahead that begins on the road Friday against the Connecticut Sun, and then they will face the Washington Mystics at home on Sunday. If Atlanta plans on keeping their winning streak alive, they must remain discipline on both ends of the floor and continue to limit their turnovers.