Friday, January 8, 2010

Ten Best Dream Games from Individual Players in 2009

The Angel or the Beast?

10. Michelle Snow: In Game 18 of the regular season - a 98-95 overtime victory in Detroit - Angel McCoughtry and Ivory Latta combined to score 42 points. However, the only player with an honest-to-goodness double double was Michelle Snow, who scored 16 points and 12 rebounds. She shot 5-for-9 from the field, and with the game tied 87-87, a hook shot from Snow at the buzzer appeared to win the game. However, the video showed that the shot came just after time expired. Snow would pick up 1 point and 2 rebounds in the overtime period. Detroit almost sent the game into a second overtime, but Katie Smith's 3-pointer missed at the buzzer in overtime.

9. Erika de Souza: The Beast from Brazil would have two games in 2009 where she had 17 rebounds. Game 13 against Connecticut at home was one of them, a 72-67 win at Philips where she scored 12 points and 17 rebounds. De Souza also added four steals. Despite a 19 point halftime lead, Connecticut almost crawled back into the game, when Tan White closed the game to two points with 9 seconds left, 69-67. However, the next four scoring opportunities - all free throws - belonged to the Dream, where they hit three of four.

8. Sancho Lyttle: Lyttle was another explosive force, and she scored 20 points and eight rebounds in an 88-79 win over Seattle in Game 24 during a Philips Arena homestand. In the last minute of the game, Seattle's Sue Bird found Swin Cash to close the gap to 83-79, but Lyttle hit one of two following free throws, and with McCoughtry missing a pair of free throws after a loose ball foul, there was a scramble under the boards. Erika de Souza rebounded and missed, but Lyttle got the next rebound for a putback layup and her 20th point of the game, putting the Dream up by 7 points with half-a minute. Sue Bird missed a 3-pointer, and Lyttle got the follow-up rebound again, essentially sealing the game for the Dream.

Trivia: This was the game where Lauren Jackson scored her 5,000th career point.

7. Chamique Holdsclaw: Game 15 was a breakout game for Holdsclaw, and was truly the best of the year for her - a shame it had to happen in Minnesota. Holdsclaw looked like the old Holdsclaw, with 28 points, 7 rebounds and shooting 11-for-16 from the field in a 91-77 win over the Lynx. The Dream started the game with a 13-2 run and never looked back. Minnesota got to within one point in the fourth...and then The Claw scored eight more points. This was the second game where Holdsclaw scored 28 points this year, and it was the best one.

6. Angel McCoughtry: In Game 33, the Dream needed a win against visting Connecticut in the final regular season home game. The Dream got off to a hot start, scoring 30 points in the first quarter, and leading 53-36 at halftime. By the end of the third quarter the lead was 21 points.

Instrumental in the win was McCoughtry, who had 18 poipnts, 6 rebounds...and six steals, a defensive force that stymied the Sun. The win not only put the Dream in the playoffs, but would prove to be enough to secure second place in the Eastern Conference. Unfortunately for the Dream, it would be the very last win of the 2009 season as the Dream lost their final game against Washington and were swept by the Shock.

5. Erika de Souza (and 3. Angel McCoughtry): In Game 31, the Dream had to travel to Sacramento the night before playing Phoenix on the road - a team itching for revenge after losing 106-76 at Philips. If the Dream lost the first game of the back to back against the Monarchs, they likely wouldn't win the following game against the Mercury.

The Monarchs took a 54-51 lead into halftime, but the Dream pulled away with the road win, 98-90. (In Phoenix, the Dream wouldn't be so lucky.) Atlanta finished strong in the end. Angel McCoughtry had 26 points and 10 assists and Erika de Souza had 27 points and 13 rebounds. Combine those two performances and the Monarchs were doomed. Atlanta finished strong in the fourth quarter, and Sacramento faded away.

Let's look at each "line":

McCoughtry: 11-for-15, +12 plus/minus, 5 rebounds, 10 assists. (And only one personal foul!)
de Souza: 13-for-19, +18 plus/minus, 13 rebounds.

Unfortunately for Sacramento, there would be no hope of a 2010 rematch. The win was the final game played between the Dream and the Monarchs, as Sacramento folded during the off-season.

4. Angel McCoughtry: It seems that the Sky had Atlanta's number in 2009, and during Game 7, the Dream would take the Sky to overtime at Philips Arena. Angel McCoughtry was still earning the right to start, and she managed to put on a show for the Dream fans. With 15 seconds left and the Dream down 87-85, McCoughtry hit a pair of free thorws to tie the game at 87-87. Steven Key would put the ball in the hands of Jia Perkins, but her jump shot missed sending the game into overtime.

Unfortunately in the overtime, McCoughtry went 1-for-2 and picked up a personal foul. Down 99-96 in the overtime, McCoughtry's 3-pointer with 6 seconds left missed. Jennifer Lacy tried a three and missed as well, and Sancho Lyttle made a meaningless putback layup as time expired as the Dream lost 99-98.

McCoughty, however, had 26 points coming off the bench. She shot 9-for-16 and she had eight assists for the Dream that night. It was the first time in McCoughtry's career that she scored more than 20 points in a game - a feat she would match six other times in 2009.

3. See #5.

2. Angel McCoughtry: Remember that thing about Angel McCoughtry having several 20 point games this year? Well, we hadn't seen anything yet. As Atlanta was getting ready to finish a six-game homestand, Game 25 against the Silver Stars showed that even off the bench, McCoughtry would be an explosive force that put other teams in danger.

She would score 34 points against San Antonio in a 93-87 victory. She scored 10 points at the free throw line - and if she had hit her other seven free throw attempts, she would have had a 40+ point game. She also had seven rebounds and four assists.

Believe it or not, Marynell Meadors still wasn't quite ready to start her, Meadors saying that she liked the energy McCoughtry brought off the bench. Total time played by McCoughtry? TWenty eight minutes, 51 seconds. If she had started and not had foul trouble - McCoughtry finished with five fouls - who knows what McCoughtry might have accomplished?

1. Erika de Souza: Game 16 against the Indiana Fever in Indiana would end with Dream loss, but the Dream almost pulled off the win. The Dream were down 43-31 at halftime, but closed to 64-55 by the end of the third quarter.

Unforunately, the Dream could never get closer than five points in the fourth, and the Fever won 84-79. It was the Fever's 11th straight win after two opening losses. However, Erika de Souza did all she could do to break the Fever's winning streak, scoring 23 points and 14 rebounds - five of those rebounds taking place in the final quarter. Out of her 14 rebounds, seven were off the offensive glass. She shot 10-for-15 for the game.

If the Dream had beaten the Fever, two of Indiana's hypothetical three losses would have come aginst Atlanta. The Beast From Brazil's 23 points were a career high. One week later, de Souza played in her very first WNBA All-Star Game.

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