Brian’s Courtside Blog - July 13 vs Atlanta

The Sky come into tonight’s game against the Atlanta Dream having lost four straight, including a 91-84 loss to the Dream back on July 5. The Sky had won the previous two meetings. Tonight is the last time the Sky will take on the last place Dream this season, a win is a must tonight. It would be devastating if the Dream is able to come in to the Pavilion and defeat the Sky.

The Sky took the court with a purpose as they stormed out of the gate, intensely getting up and down the floor, as they thoroughly out-played the Dream. Candice Dupree played with the determination and passion of a champion. As the Dream called timeout just 1:17 into the game, Dupree had scored 4 of the team’s first 6 points, and contributed to the team’s other basket as she came up with a defensive rebound and flew down the court with the ball in her hand, dishing it off to Perkins for the easy lay in.

“That’s the hardest I’ve ever seen her (Dupree) play,” said my buddy at the scorers table, Demetris.

Dupree finished the opening frame with 10 points and 3 assists as the Sky jumped out to a quick 21-6 lead.

The Sky continued their early dominance in the second quarter with a barrage of easy lay-ups and fast break opportunities. It seemed that every time my head popped up from my computer screen, the Sky were on a fast break or heading down to the defensive end after scoring a non-contested basket.

The half was capped off by a three-pointer from K.B. Sharp from the top of the key with just over 20 seconds to go to give the Sky an commanding 44-17 lead at the break. As the horn sounded and both teams headed for their locker rooms, Sky Head Coach Steven Key enthusiastically clapped his hands as he followed his players off the court.

The halftime entertainment was a dog relay race. The reason I mention this is because the Dream radio announcer, who was clearly upset with his teams play in the first half, jokingly said to me, “Can we get some Dream jerseys for these dogs if they are eligible to play?”

The Sky found the energy and excitement tonight that they need to play with night in and night out. Several times the Sky start the game off slow and come on late. The problem is they can ill afford those slow starts as their opponent is then able to dictate the pace of play and eventually the outcome, much like the Sky were able to do tonight.

The Dream shot an abysmal 6 of 33 (18.2%) in the first half from the floor, due to the Sky’s stifling defense. “We need to play defense more like this all year, this is what we should look like all the time,” said Demetris.

Midway through the third quarter, Armintie Price drove the ball hard down the right side of the lane where she was met by a fierce blow from Dream forward Kasha Terry. As Price fell to the ground, the fans let out a loud OHHHH. For those of you that do not think these women are physical…guess again, this was just about as hard of a hit as you are going to see.

Towards the end of the contest, with the game in total control, Dream starting guard Ivory Latta was pulled from the game. Instead of sitting on the end of the bench and pouting about her team’s poor play, she moved up and down the sidelines as if she was the Head Coach, barking out instructions and giving her teammates full support. This is great to see, I commend Latta on her passion to compete and not give up on the game until it is over.

When the final buzzer sounded, the score was a lot closer than the game indicated. The Sky won 79-66, the margin of victory could have easily have been double or triple that. Games like this are great because your team easily wins with very little doubt, however when the score is as lopsided as it was tonight (the Sky led by 31 at one point) the game can tend to get a bit long and less interesting. I will never complain though, imagine if we could win all of our games like this.

Dupree finished with 18 points, Jia Perkins also added 18. The Sky’s 27 point halftime lead set a franchise record for largest halftime lead, surpassing the old record of 20 set back on July 27, 2007 against Houston.

Tonight’s win should be a major boost to the team’s moral as the string of opponents coming up is no easy task. The Sky have six games before the Olympic break. They will play first place teams Detroit and San Antonio, take on Connecticut twice who is one game back of Detroit for first in the East, Indiana and Houston.

This Wednesday at 11am be sure to tune into 1690 WVON as the Sky head to the motor city to take on the Shock. The Sky will return home on the July 18 when the Connecticut Sun comes to town at 7:30pm.