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By JEFF MEZYDLO, STATS Senior Writer

The Atlanta Dream didn't have much success in their inaugural WNBA game. They hope things go better in their home opener.

The Dream hope the league's first regular-season game in Atlanta results in the franchise's initial victory when it faces the reigning Eastern Conference champion Detroit Shock on Friday night.

With team management saying 2,400 season tickets have already been sold, a large crowd is expected to fill Philips Arena as the Dream (0-1) play the first of two straight home games. Atlanta hosts Los Angeles on Sunday.

"This team will have passion," Dream president Bill Bolan said. "The people in this town respond to passion. I think the neat thing about us is that the fans will see it all the time."

Playing better than it did in a 100-67 debut loss at Connecticut on Saturday would also help the Dream increase their fan base as the WNBA's first expansion team since the Chicago Sky, who went 5-29 in 2006.

"You win, they'll come," Dream general manager and coach Marynell Meadors said.

Betty Lennox had 17 points and seven rebounds for Atlanta, which led 17-12 early in the game before Connecticut went on a 26-6 run to take control.

The Dream shot 39.4 percent, committed 16 turnovers and were outrebounded 53-29.

Recording that first victory Saturday won't be easy against Detroit (2-1), which bounced back from its first loss with a 76-71 home win over Indiana on Wednesday.

After combining for just 11 points in the first two games, forward Kara Braxton was removed from the starting lineup but responded with a career-high 22 points and grabbed seven rebounds against the Fever.

"She's been frustrating for 3 1/2 years now, but now maybe we've found her niche," Detroit coach Bill Laimbeer said. "Maybe it will work having her as an energy player off the bench."

Fellow reserve Plenette Pierson added 20 points as she and Braxton combined to score eight more points than the Detroit starters and 32 more than the Indiana bench.

Bothered by an ankle injury, All-Star Deanna Nolan had 14 points after totaling 11 in the first two games for the Shock.

"She's showing a lot of heart, because her athleticism is really hobbled," said Laimbeer of Nolan, Detroit's 2007 scoring leader at 16.3 points per game.

These teams meet again in Atlanta on June 22 before concluding their season series one week later at Detroit.

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