STAR OF THE GAME
Tamika Catchings
Catchings continues to make her late push for WNBA MVP. Catchings led the way for Indiana with 22 points.
UNSUNG HERO
Tangela Smith
Smith played a team high 32 minutes and scored 15 points while shooting two for three behind the arc.
QUOTABLE
Lin Dunn
In general:
We dug ourselves into a hole in the first half. We played much better in the second. We matched their intensity in the second half. We missed too many easy shots. We need to correct our mistakes. Our defense was very soft in the first half. We did not start the game with defensive intensity. At the end of the day, Lindsey Harding was the difference.

Katie Douglas
In General
We had a game plan, but I think anytime we play Fever defense if youre a half a second count off, youre going to look out of place. We were half a second off our rotations in the first half being aggressive and they capitalized.

HIDDEN NUMBERS
Points in the paint:
Fever 40, Dream 38
Second-chance points:

Fever 15, Dream 11
Fast-break points:

Fever 9, Dream 11
Points off turnovers:

Fever 20, Dream 13
Starters scoring:

Fever 65, Dream 65
Bench scoring:

Fever 15, Dream 21
McCoughtry, Harding lead Dream past Fever, 86-80

Team Record 1st 2nd 3rd 4th Final
Atlanta 15-13 23 19 17 27 86
at Indiana 19-9 18 14 29 19 80

By Tom Rietmann | August 27, 2011

INDIANAPOLIS -- The Indiana Fever missed an opportunity Saturday night to clinch its seventh consecutive berth in the WNBA Playoffs. The Fever couldn't close the deal.

In my mind, we just let a game slip away from us, Fever Coach Lin Dunn said after the Atlanta Dream captured an 86-80 victory at Conseco Fieldhouse. We had that ball game. We should have won at home. ...We made some errors and it cost us a ball game against a good team.

The Fever held a 76-73 lead with 3 minutes left, but the Dream outscored the home team 13-4 down the stretch. With 56 seconds remaining, the game was tied at 80, but Indiana missed its last four shots.

However, it might be more accurate to say the Fever lost this one in first half. Dunn and her players thought so.

I thought we played a very great second half, but I was very disappointed in our energy, effort and intensity in the first half, Dunn said.

The Fever shot 25 percent in the second quarter (4-of-16) and 29.7 percent (11-of-37) in the half. Atlanta, with Angel McCoughtry scoring 16 in the first 20 minutes, shot 53.1 percent (17-of-32) in the half and opened a 42-32 halftime lead.

When you dig yourself into a hole that big, especially against a great team like that, it's hard, said forward Tamika Catchings, who led the Fever with a game-high 22 points. (Coming back) takes a lot of energy out of you.

Indiana's magic number for clinching a playoff spot remains one. The Fever, still in first place in the Eastern Conference with a 19-9 record, could gain the playoff spot Sunday if Chicago loses to New York.

Indiana prefers to finish with a strong push. The team plays its final six regular-season games over a 13-day stretch, starting with Tuesday's trip to Atlanta. Indiana also closes the season with a home game against Atlanta (15-13), which holds a 2-0 lead in the 2011 series. And it's possible Indiana, as the potential top seed, and Atlanta, as the fourth seed, will meet in a first-round playoff series.

I think (playing Atlanta is) a great challenge for us, said Fever guard Katie Douglas, who collected 14 points, five rebounds and five assists. I think as competitors, anybody in here would like to play them again. We're going to look at the mistakes we made and obviously try to clean them up and be ready.

On Tuesday, Indiana point guard Erin Phillips said, we need to do what they did here. Get a great start and be physical.

Indiana didn't match Atlanta's toughness, especially in the first half.

I thought our defense was soft in the first half, Dunn said. I thought they got whatever they wanted.

McCoughtry carried the Dream early and Lindsay Harding took over in the second half. Harding played all 40 minutes, scoring 13 points after halftime, including nine in the fourth quarter.

I thought we did a very good job on McCoughtry, Dunn said. At the end of the day, I think the key was Lindsay Harding. In crunch time, how many buckets did she hit at the end of the shot clock? That may have been the difference in the ball game, her ability to hit the big bucket under duress.

Postgame Notes:

  • Tonight's win is the Dream's first at Conseco Fieldhouse since 2008, ending a six-game losing streak on the Fever's home floor.
  • Tonight's loss is the Fever's first at home since July 15 when the Minnesota Lynx outscored the Fever 80-70. The Fever has lost just three of its 15 home games this and can tie its most home wins ever by winning its last two.
  • Atlanta's 55 percent shooting from the floor tonight is the second best mark by a Fever opponent this season. The Phoenix Mercury shot 55.2 percent from the field in a loss at Conseco Fieldhouse, 6/28.
  • Iziane Castro Marques scored nine of her bench-high 11 points for the Dream in the fourth quarter, as Atlanta outscored the Fever, 27-19, in the final 10 minutes.
  • The Fever scored its first nine points on 3-3 from 3-pt range tonight, but then made just one of its remaining 11 shots from beyond the arc.
  • The Fever committed a season-low eight turnovers tonight and outscored the opposition, 20-13, in points off turnovers. Atlanta committed 18 turnovers and the loss was Indiana's third (11-3) in a game with fewer turnovers than the opposition.
  • Including three from Iziane Castro Marques, the Dream had a season-low nine assists--the fewest by a Fever opponent in 2011.
  • With her game-high 22 points tonight, Tamika Catchings has scored 20+ points in four of the last six games, She tallied 20 or more points just two times in the first 22 games of the season.
  • The Fever scored 40 points in the paint tonight to Atlanta's 38 and the loss was the Fever's third (13-3) in 16 games in which it outscored the opposition in the paint.
  • Tammy Sutton-Brown's six rebounds ties her season-high. She has had six rebounds three times. Her three offensive rebounds ties her second best outing of the season.
  • With a team-high three tonight, Tamika Catchings has had at least three steals in four of the last five games and averaged 2.6 spg in that five-game span.
  • With 15 tonight, Tangela scored in double figures for the fifth time in the last nine games. 15 points ties her most since opening night when she tallied a season-best 16 vs. Chicago.