The Atlanta Dream are once again finding June to be the most pleasant month of the season.
A year after going 8-1 in June, the Dream are chasing a six-game winning streak Friday night against the visiting New York Liberty in the opener of this home-and-home set.Atlanta (8-3) last strung together six wins from June 14-30, 2013, giving it a 13-2 record in June over the past two seasons while going 12-18 in all other regular-season contests.The conference-leading Dream's current streak reached five with Wednesday's 83-73 home win over Washington to complete a home-and-home sweep of the Mystics. It was also their fifth straight home win, running their WNBA-best home mark to 6-1.Angel McCoughtry, who is among the league leaders with 19.2 points per game, matched a season high with 27 points after a 7-of-12 second half to spark a 14-0 fourth-quarter run that put the game away.Coach Michael Cooper credited defensive pressure with contributing to the run as the Dream held the Mystics to 1 for 7 from 3-point range in the second half."I think our defense just stepped up a little bit; we started getting up on the shooters," Cooper said. "We changed our pick-and-roll (defense) from one to another, and it really helped."They did so without fouling and earned a 23-4 advantage in free-throw attempts. In the home-and-home, they outscored Washington 40-11 at the line.New York (3-9) is seeking a scoring advantage of any kind after losing four straight. Wednesday's 105-100 overtime loss in Chicago extended the Liberty's road losing streak to six.Cappie Pondexter scored 29 and is averaging 23.3 points in her last three games. Such losing streaks are growing all too common for her Liberty team after ending 2013 on a seven-game skid."It was a tough game, the only thing we can do is go forward," Pondexter said. "Luckily, I have enough experience in this league that a lot of good things can happen. I'm still optimistic and if we can continue to work hard, we'll overcome whatever it is we're going through right now."Center Tina Charles added 25 points before fouling out while rookie Anna Cruz chipped in with a season-high 17.Charles is averaging 22.5 points in her last four games. She figures to battle with Atlanta center Erika de Souza, who is enjoying a career year with 17.3 points per game on 61.2 percent shooting after never finishing her previous eight seasons with a scoring average in the teens.In the Dream's last home meeting with the Liberty, McCoughtry scored 30 but was outdone by Pondexter's 33 as the Liberty won 88-82 on Aug. 11.The teams split four games a season ago with New York handing Atlanta its only June loss.