Atlanta Dream Outlast Washington Mystics In 80-75 Win


Allisha Gray #15 high fives Rhyne Howard #10 of the Atlanta Dream during the game against the Washington Mystics on September 8, 2023 at Entertainment & Sports Arena in Washington, D.C.. Copyright 2023 NBAE (Photo by Kenny Giarla/NBAE via Getty Images)


Wright – “The Job Is Still Not Done” 

By: Jameelah Johnson

What do you get when you match up two teams with the same record who have already clinched a playoff berth but look to lock in their seeding? A battle. That’s exactly what happened as the Atlanta Dream (19-20) hit the road to face the Washington Mystics (18-21) on Friday, September 8.

Atlanta’s Rhyne Howard had a double-double of 21 points and 12 rebounds, along with 4 assists, 2 steals and a block. Washington’s Brittney Sykes finished with 27 points, 5 rebounds, 2 assists, and 2 steals. After the win, the Dream sat in fifth place in the standings.

“Understanding that the job is still not done and we still have two more games left in the regular season starting here tonight in Washington (DC).” Dream head coach Tanisha Wright told the media pregame. “Even though we have a playoff berth, you want to be playing well going into the playoffs. So this is a great opportunity for us to come out and continue to grow and continue to get better.”

Both teams came out firing on all cylinders, with Howard leading the pack scoring the first seven points. The game was tied three times early in the first quarter but Atlanta pulled away with some help from Naz Hillmon and Haley Jones.

As the three ball began falling for Washington, Atlanta sought to adjust and went up 11 due to attacking and knocking down shots from the free throw line. Washington went on a 4-0 run to end the first half to gain a bit of momentum but Atlanta still led by seven.

Sykes came out of halftime on a mission, scoring 15 points in the third to get them within one-point. Howard took the call and scored six points in the quarter to keep Atlanta ahead. Washington outscored Atlanta 25-19.

Atlanta opened the final period on a 11-0 run, forcing Washington to substitute their starters back in. What ensued was a back-and-forth duel of runs that pulled the Mystics within one-point again. Dream’s Allisha Gray headed to the line to knock down two clutch free throws and her teammate Danielle Robinson sealed the deal with two more to end the game.

Lineup notes: 

ATL: Aari McDonald out due to personal reasons, Nia Coffey out due to hand. 

Starters: Danielle Robinson, Allisha Gray, Rhyne Howard, Monique Billings, Cheyenne Parker 

WAS: Shakira Austin out due to left hip, Kristy Tolliver out due to right knee. 

Starters: Brittney Sykes, Natasha Cloud, Ariel Atkins, Myisha Hines-Allen, Elena Delle Donne 

Game Highlights: 

In true Dream fashion, the game started with Howard losing the defender to knock down a catch and shoot three. 


Jones noted how her confidence has grown and, instead of passing up shots, she takes them herself. That was on display as she didn’t let up on the drive and attacked the paint. 

As the Mystics doubled Howard, she found a baseline cutting Hillmon free of defenders for an easy layup.  

Parker hit three of her four three attempts and started early. 

Over half of Atlanta’s field goals came from an assist. Howard found Gray on the perimeter as Parker set up the screen to make sure she had some space and Gray hit the three. 

Howard placed an emphasis on her defense all season, wanting that to be one of the areas she’s noticeably worked on. She pressured Atkins, stayed with her on her drive and came up with a big block at a pivotal moment in the game. 

Postgame Sounds: 

Dream head coach Tanisha Wright: “I thought it was a great win for us. Good playoff basketball from both sides. Really happy that we were able to sustain the way that we did. I thought we played hard. I thought we executed really well. And I think down the stretch, we made the right plays.”

Rhyne Howard: “So they were being really aggressive so I knew that I would have to put the pressure back on them. And so by doing that, it opened up lanes for me because I was able to use that to my advantage and get downhill and open up the floor for everybody.”

Allisha Gray: “It’s very important. We had to help the post out because I know they had a big battle tonight with Delle Donne and Myisha Allen down there, so me and Rhy knew we had to get on the boards tonight as well.”


Atlanta: 37.9% (25-of-66 FG) from the field  

Washington: 38.6% (27-of-70 FG) from the field

Atlanta: 24-of-29 from the line 

Washington: 10-of-12 from the line

Atlanta: 47 rebounds (nine offensive) 

Washington: 32 rebounds (four offensive)


Rhyne Howard: 21 points (8-20 FG, 4-7 FT), 12 rebounds, 4 assists, 2 steals, 1 block; Allisha Gray: 17 points (4-12 FG, 7-7 FT), 8 rebounds, 1 assist


Brittney Sykes: 27 points (11-24 FG, 5-13 3P), 5 rebounds, 2 steals; Elena Delle Donne: 13 points (4-14 FG, 4-5 FT), 6 rebounds, 1 assist, 1 steal, 1 block