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With just under six minutes to play in the fourth quarter on Thursday in Atlanta, Dream guard Tiffany Hayes got two good screens, got open, got a pass from Aari McDonald and hit a 23-foot three-pointer from right in front of the Lynx bench.

A 20-point Lynx lead to start the final quarter was down to seven. Hayes was on fire. But then she made a mistake.

"She kind of stared at me,'' said Aerial Powers, Hayes' defender. "I was like, 'Hold on. Who does she think she is?' I kind of went off.''

The Lynx (11-19) beat the Dream (12-17) 92-85, breaking a three-game losing streak while starting off a three-game road trip the right way for a team still hoping to make the playoffs. The Lynx, next-to-last in the 12-team league, are still two games out of the final playoff spot with six games remaining.

They did it despite being the sixth team in league history to allow an opponent to score 40 points in a quarter, which the Dream — in the bonus for the final 7 minutes of the game — did in the fourth.

All because Hayes — who scored 18 of her 24 points in the fourth — tried to stare down Powers, and Powers responded.

Moments later, the lead down to six thanks to a Hayes free throw, Sylvia Fowles set a great pick, giving Powers an open 18-footer. After an Atlanta miss, Fowles fed Powers for a three-pointer. After another Dream miss, another Fowles pick set up Power for a jumper.

Just like that, seven straight points, lead back to 13, crisis averted.

Well, eventually.

The Lynx offense, faced with a desperate Dream zone defense, faltered, making this must-win a bit harder than it needed to be.

"I'd like to finish the game the game better,'' coach Cheryl Reeve said. "But we played well. We defended [well]. That's why we were disappointed in our fouling, because we did a great job on their half-court offense.''

Still, such a strange game. Atlanta scored 45 points in the first 30 minutes, 40 in the final 10. A lineup of mostly reserves got the Lynx in foul trouble early in the fourth, and the Dream, eventually playing downhill, scored 18 of their 40 fourth-quarter points from the line.

Still, the Lynx held Atlanta to 38.6% shooting, moving them to 141-6 since 2011 when holding a team under 40%. On the other end the Lynx shot 55.6%, playing efficiently for much of the first three quarters before turnovers became a problem.

Powers scored 25 points on 10-for-16 shooting. Fowles had a 12-point, 14-rebound, two-block game. Kayla McBride scored 11. Point guard Moriah Jefferson had 14 points and seven assists. But she also had eight turnovers, which is why Lindsay Allen — signed to a second seven-day contract before the game — was on the court down the stretch.

Rhyne Howard had 18 for Atlanta, Cheyenne Parker had 16.

Reeve had stressed the need for her perimeter players not to turn down open shots. There was a nice balance between feeding Fowles and taking those shots on Thursday. Powers, McBride and Jefferson were a combined 19-for-31. Bridget Carleton hit two threes and scored eight points off the bench.

But, for all that, things got a bit dicey late. "Atlanta went zone and it flustered us a little bit,'' Fowles said. "We were turning the ball over.''

Powers, though, was there to stem the tide, scoring nine points over the final 5:15 of the game. It should also be noted that Hayes didn't score over the last 5:35 of the game, and fouled out with 2:35 left. Afterwards Powers said she understood what Hayes was doing. They're both competitors. But that stare?

"I kind of felt some sort of way,'' she said. "That look kind of set me off.''

  • Reeve, who will lead the U.S. women's team at the 2022 FIBA Women's World Cup in Sydney, Australia, in September, has added Mike Thibault (Washington Mystics), Kara Lawson (Duke University) and Joni Taylor (Texas A&M) to her coaching staff.

The Star Tribune did not travel for this game. This article was written using the television broadcast and video interviews after the game.