It isn't often that you get a chance to talk to Atlanta's assistant coaches, and I was definitely surprised when Atlanta assistant coach Karleen Thompson came out to talk to the press instead of head coach Michael Cooper. It's not like she hasn't spoken to the press before - she was head coach of the Houston Comets from 2007-08.
* Atlanta is 9-2 over its last 11 games. It is 8-2 at home this season, and is 26-6 at home over its last 32 regular season home games.
* At the halfway mark of the season, the Dream are 12-5. The best record the Dream have ever had during the halfway point? A 13-4 record in 2010. The 2010 Dream made it to the WNBA Finals, where they lost to the Seattle Storm.
* Atlanta's nine turnovers were a season low.
* Sancho Lyttle tied her season high with 18 points on 9-for-13 shooting, with eight rebounds.
* The Mystics are 2-11 when allowing at least 70 points to an opponent.
* The Dream had eight steals, compared to just one steal from Washington. Kara Lawson got the lone steal for the Mystics. Washington's one steal is a season low.
Quotes from Karleen Thompson
Opening statement: "We really were trying to focus on putting the full 40 minutes together and not have as big of a load with letting teams come back. We had one, but we recouped from that and came right back playing great defense. I think everybody contributed well and it was a good team win for us.
On the fourth quarter push that put Atlanta up for good: "We took it upon ourselves to just do what we know that we do best, which is play defense. We were able to get some points off of turnovers, they started attacking the basket. We started rebounding the ball well, and just limit them to one shot."
On perimeter defense: "They were shooting over 50 percent, but we had to make our adjustments and just force them to put the ball on the floor. We wanted to focus on no open looks, no open threes and use our helpside, just force them put it on the floor and have our help behind us on the rotation."
On Atlanta's 3-point shooting (3-for-12) and advice given to the team to adjust: "Pound the ball inside. We go inside-out, we have wide open looks. Attack the basket first, go in to score, we can get points going to the free-throw line and not settle for jump shots."
On the team's free throw shooting (12-for-17): "Do I have to? (Laughs.) We've been concentrating on that a lot in practice. We hit them in practice. We're just going to keep focusing on that in practice, to hit them when we're tired. We'll start hitting them."
On McCoughtry only playing 11 first-half minutes: "She's okay. We have to have a contribution from everybody, if somebody's having an off-game or somebody's hurt. I thought the bench came in well and gave production."
Quotes from Sancho Lyttle
On her performance: "I just tried to make up for the last game where I fouled out. I just tried to be in tune with the game and tried to stay out of foul trouble. I think that all around we just wanted to get out of the losing streak and we did."
On the fourth-quarter turnaround: "We practice for the fourth quarter. We run so much and a lot of teams cannot keep up with us. They’ll keep up for three quarters and by the fourth we kick in another gear. We practice daily and run, run, run. Then when we’re this tired, coach runs us some more. So I think that is what happened tonight because we played harder on defense in the fourth quarter when other teams do not."
Quotes from Mike Thibault
On the Mystics loss: "We ended up shooting a bad percentage from the three again, we missed layups, we missed free throws, we fouled them at inopportune times so I guess all of those things together in the second half is why they're in first place and we're struggling to get in the playoffs. It's a combination of all of those things; there's no one thing.
We get the game back to a seven-point game and Angel gets out to drive and we foul her. Sancho Lyttle gets an offensive rebound. Erika and Stephanie Dolson get tangled up and it's a foul on us and they shoot free throws, and that's how it gets away from you in a hurry.
We missed some transition layups. We missed some wide-open threes. Our best free throw shooters missed free throws tonight, and it just adds up. It's an accumulation."
On Kara Lawson off the bench: "She shot the ball well early. I just wish we could get all our guards to shoot well on the same night. Right now nobody shoots the same on the same night. We have two making shots and two missing shots. You can’t win, you can’t be consistent doing that."
On whether Washington was playing a zone against Atlanta? "No, no zone. When posts got it in to Erika, we double teamed and it might have looked like a zone, but we were just doubling the post."
On three losses in a row. "Every day's a struggle for us. We're very young. What we're trying to preach is that if every player can get two possessions better, we don't need to make 100 percent of every thing. We just need gradual improvement and we'll get better.
"The reality is that we've had five games this year, six-seven point games where we've gone, let's say 4-for-17 or 3-for-15 from the 3-point line. We're last in the league in 3-point shooting, and a year ago we were one of the better 3-point shooting teams. We aren't making open shots. If that gets better, we'll give ourselves a better chance to win these kind of games."
On Atlanta's ability to get into the paint and get on the break: "Ask them. (Indicating his own players, laughs.) I don't know if it was so much getting in the paint initially as it was getting some offensive rebounds, they got into the paint off a couple of our turnovers. We had six turnovers in the first half, nine in the second half, and they turned into points. Right now, it's no one thing, it's cumulative. It's missing a layup, it's fouling on the other end, it's missing an offensive block out on a rebound. And all of a sudden it snowballs, and they've got an 8-0 run."
On bench production - 40 points were scored from bench players. "It doesn't feel like that when you only score 77 points. I can't say that we had a major break out from our group, it doesn't feel like it."
On Atlanta stopping Washington's inside game in the second half: "[The key was] probably us not throwing it there as much in the first half. They got out and pressured us a little bit more. Atlanta has a history throughout the season of upping their pressure as the game goes along and a lot of teams don’t adjust to it. I think they start overplaying more when they get down or frustrated and some teams handle it better than others. Right now, we're not handling it real well."