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The Atlanta Dream have played five WNBA Finals games in their history, and they haven't won one yet. Not that they haven't played well enough to win any one of them.
On Wednesday night at the Target Center, the Dream carved out their second straight double-digit lead against Minnesota. And in the fourth quarter, the Dream died again despite McCoughtry's having set a WNBA Finals single-game scoring record with 38 points. The Lynx rallied again behind a raucous, sometimes deafening crowd of more than 15,000 people and won 101-95 to take a 2-0 lead in the best-of-five series.
And Atlanta retreated to regroup and cool off.Fifty-six fouls were called in the game: 33 on the Dream, 23 on the Lynx. Minnesota went to the free throw line 46 times, Atlanta 32. The Dream players and coach Marynell Meadors unquestionably, undeniably felt it was the difference in the game, the difference between a big hole in this series and being right back in it with two games to play in Atlanta on Friday and Sunday. Now the Dream's margin for error is razor slim. They must win three games in a row against a gritty Minnesota team they haven't beaten in four tries so far this season. "I don't know what to say about this game right now; I don't know what to say," McCoughtry said. She was 10-of-22 from the floor, 16-of-21 from the line. It marks the second time McCoughtry has set the single-game scoring record in the Finals series. Her team hasn't won either time. "We go home," McCoughtry said. Point guard Lindsey Harding grabbed a stat sheet from a team official and went straight to the fouls column. "We played extremely well I thought, three quarters, even the fourth quarter," Harding said. "We needed to find a way to get to the foul line as much as they did. "I think we got opportunities first half, into the third quarter. In the fourth, we were pretty much doing the same things, but it kind of changed. You have to play through it, through adversity." Meadors was on a slow burn in the postgame news conference. She opened by pointing out the length of the game, the number of "stoppages." "I thought we played hard enough to win the game, but we didn't win," Meadors said. Asked about the level of frustration in her locker room, Meadors responded, "If you were the coach, would you feel frustration after watching that game? That's what I'm feeling." She answered another question with the preface: "Short of getting fined for anything I just really don't understand the things that were being called. I'm not saying that they were wrong, but there were a lot of things I didn't agree with. But that's part of the game." With all the foul calls, Sancho Lyttle was the only player to foul out of the game for the Dream. McCoughtry and Erika de Souza finished with five fouls each. Lyttle didn't want to talk after the game for fear of being fined. Atlanta was in a good position to steal this one from the home team. De Souza's return to the lineup -- she'd missed the previous four games while playing with the Brazilian national team -- brought more post depth, allowing the Dream to finish with a 31-30 rebounding edge. De Souza pulled down 10 rebounds and contributed eight points. Thanks to McCoughtry's offensive fireworks, the Dream led through most of the game, by six points at the end of first, eight points at the half and five points entering the fourth quarter. But the bottom line is that for the second game in the row, in the final period, the Dream couldn't hold a lead. Minnesota was 19-of-24 from the line in the final quarter. What happens from here for the Dream is pretty clear. Atlanta needs to bottle its anger, go back to its home court and try to pull off a very tall order. "Well, all I've got to say is, we've got to go to Atlanta for two games," Meadors said. "And we will be ready for them."