It's a quick turnaround for the reigning WNBA champion Seattle Storm, who try to bounce back from their first loss of the season Friday night when they face the Atlanta Dream.
After raising its championship banner at home in its season opener, Seattle was brought back to reality with a 72-61 defeat at Minnesota on Thursday night. The Storm fell behind 22-9 after the first quarter and never recovered, shooting just 36.4 percent overall and finishing 2 for 15 from 3-point range.
Natasha Howard and Jewell Loyd were the only Storm players in double figures with 18 and 13 points, respectively, and Loyd shot 5 of 21. Seattle continues to play without injured starters Sue Bird and Breanna Stewart. Beard, an 11-time All-Star underwent arthroscopic knee surgery Tuesday and is sidelined indefinitely while Stewart is out for the season with a torn Achilles.
Atlanta, also without an injured superstar of its own in Angel McCoughtry, opened its season with a 76-72 victory over Dallas last Friday night. The Dream erased an eight-point deficit in the final quarter, outscoring the Wings 29-17 and holding them without a basket for the final 2:28.
"It was ugly but I think we did what we do and that's battle," Dream coach Nicki Collen told The Associated Press. "... It took a little while to get everyone on the same page, but we just don't give up."
Jessica Breland scored five of her 17 points in the final 1:17, including a go-ahead 3-point play as part of a game-closing 11-1 run. Atlanta has been holding a minicamp with the long layoff, trying to clean up certain parts of its offense while prepping for the champs and a back-to-back of its own as it faces Washington on Saturday.
"People have asked how you prepare for a back-to-back," Collen said. "You don't in this league. You prepare for the game in front of you, and so we spend these days preparing for Seattle and trying to make ourselves a little bit better every day. Win or lose, we go back to the drawing board and figure out how to get as much as we can out of 45 minutes of film on Saturday and go play a game."
Atlanta won two of three games between the teams last year, splitting two contests at home. McCoughtry and Tiffany Hayes scored 16 points apiece in the rubber game, an 87-74 victory for the Dream, and ruining a 31-point effort by Stewart.