ATLANTA (AP) - Courtney Paris gave short-handed Atlanta a big boost in her Dream debut.
Angel McCoughtry scored 14 points and Paris had nine points and eight rebounds in Atlanta's 71-68 win over the Chicago Sky on Tuesday.
The Dream (2-5) played their third game without second-leading scorer and rebounder Sancho Lyttle, who is competing for Spain in an Olympic qualifying tournament. Paris, cut by Los Angeles in training camp for teh second straight year, was signed Saturday to fill the void.
``I tried to get her in training camp,' Dream coach Marynell Meadors said. ``She came close to making L.A.'s team last year, and she thought she'd go back and make it this year but she was the last cut. ... She's a space-eater. She doesn't let people push her around, and she rebounds. As soon as she gets used to our system, I think she's going to be really terrific.'
Paris helped Atlanta re-discovere the defensive intensity they've been missing since last season's run to the WNBA finals, where they were swept by Seattle in three close games.
McCoughtry scored 12 points in the first half and Paris had nine points and five boards to lead the Dream to a 43-31 lead at the break.
``I thought I did well in (L.A.'s) training camp,' said Paris, who made the most of her modest 13:56 in playing time. ``I'm just happy to have this opportunity.'
However, Atlanta then went into a funk while being outscored 18-8 in the third quarter.
Chicago's Sylvia Fowles, held in check for three quarters before finishing with 21 points, gave the Sky (3-3) a 55-53 lead with 7:29 left on a three-point play.
The lead changed hands a few times before Erika de Souza's turnaround jumper gave the Dream the lead for good, 67-66, with 1:32 remaining.
``Our confidence level has been fragile because we've lost games, and we've lost a lot of them in the fourth quarter,' Meadors said. ``But . . . we got back to what we do, which is defend, rebound and run.
``We were more in control of what we were doing. A lot of that was because we pushed the ball.'
Tamera Young scored a season-high 14 points off the bench for Chicago.
``I thought we were soft today,' said Chicago coach Pokey Chatman. ``We have to be a little tougher. We need to take care of the basketball.'
Atlanta's de Souza scored 12 in just 19 foul-plagued minutes, and Lindsey Harding added 11.
With her late push, Fowles set a franchise record by scoring 20 or more points in her fifth consecutive game. Candice Dupree did that four straight times in 2007.
The Dream shot just 34.7 percent (25 for 72), and turned the ball over 12 times (to Chicago's 19) after averaging a WNBA-worst 18.2, Atlanta gave up far fewer points than the 84.8 they'd been allowing, and the home team made as many free throws (19-of-27) as Chicago attempted (10-of-19).
``In order for us to get better, we have to maintain those leads,' she said. ``We make it too hard on ourselves. Courtney was huge. Her being wide, it's hard for girls to get around her. She uses her body real well.'
Lyttle is expected to miss three more Dream games, all at home.
The Associated Press News Service
The Associated Press
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