FEVER: Indiana falls at Atlanta, 89-68

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ATLANTA – Layshia Clarendon spoiled the Indiana Fever’s first visit to McCamish Pavilion. Clarendon scored a career-high 27 points against her former team as the Atlanta Dream outlasted the Indiana Fever, 89-68, in their first game on the Dream’s new home floor. Traded by Indiana prior to the 2016 season, she shot 11-of-15 from the floor and matched a career-high with eight rebounds. She also added six assists.

Indiana lost for the third time in four games and snapped a two-game road win streak. The Dream avenged a road loss at Indiana in June and won for just the second time in six games.

Clarendon matched her career scoring high by halftime, netting 19 points on 8-of-10 shooting. She paced a Dream lineup that shot 57 percent overall in the first half and finished at 53 percent. Sandwiched around the first-quarter break, Atlanta scored 24 out of 32 points during an eight-minute stretch to command a 17-point lead on Clarendon’s 3-pointer with 4:35 left in the half. Another Clarendon bucket pushed the lead to Atlanta’s largest of the half, 43-24.

While Clarendon began her career in Indiana, Erica Wheeler was an undrafted free agent in Atlanta before landing with the Fever. Wheeler scored in double figures for the eighth time in nine games to finish with 14 points, four before intermission as Indiana whittled its deficit to just 10.

Wheeler had nine by halftime and teammate Shenise Johnson fueled Indiana’s comeback bid in the third period by scoring seven points during a 9-4 run to pull the Fever within single digits, 59-51, just four minutes into the second half.

But Atlanta regrouped. They took a 14-point advantage into the fourth quarter and an 11-2 spurt gave Atlanta a 77-56 lead on a Brittney Sykes layin with 7:36 remaining. Bria Holmes’ uncontested layup with less than a minute play raised the margin to 22.

“Atlanta’s a team that averages 77 points. We gave them 89 points and they shot 53 percent,” said Fever coach Pokey Chatman. “We had 16 turnovers and kept giving them the ball back for 27 points off turnovers. I’ve said it before, ‘If we don’t defend, we won’t win.’”

Chatman added, “We have to be more disciplined. We have to minimize mistakes and get more stops. That’s what we need to work on.”

Sykes added 18 points for Atlanta, and Tiffany Hayes had 11. Johnson led the Fever with 15 and Candice Dupree scored in double figures for the 10th straight game, adding 14.

Indiana returns to Bankers Life Fieldhouse for its annual Kids Day afternoon game on Wednesday, July 12 (12:00 p.m.) against the San Antonio Stars.

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