Dream fans didn’t have much to cheer about during Friday’s game against the Fever at State Farm Arena.

The sellout crowd of 17,575 watched NaLyssa Smith and Kelsey Mitchell combine for 39 points while Indiana shot 56.9% as a team en route to a 91-79 victory. Atlanta has dropped six of its last eight.

The Dream (6-8) did not lead in the game after allowing 35 points in the first quarter. It was the most points the Dream have given up in a quarter this season. The previous high was 33 at Indiana on June 13, a 91-84 loss. It was the third time this season the Dream have given up 90 or more points.

Dream coach Tanisha Wright was critical of her team in the postgame news conference.

“I promise you if I had answers I would tell you,” Wright said. “I don’t have the answers. I know it’s my job to get this team to figure out how to play together – how to support one another; how to play hard for one another; how to sell out for one another. I’m just gonna keep working until they get to that point. Until they get to that point, we’re gonna have games like this over and over.

Atlanta Dream head coach Tanisha Wright, center, and Atlanta Dream forward Naz Hillmon (00) talk on the sideline during their game against the Indiana Fever at State Farm Arena, Friday, June 21, 2024, in Atlanta. Indiana won 91-79. (Jason Getz / AJC)

Credit: Jason Getz / Jason.Getz@ajc.com

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Credit: Jason Getz / Jason.Getz@ajc.com

Four of Indiana’s starters were in double figures. Smith finished with a team-high 21 points and she tallied nine rebounds Mitchell had 18 points, Caitlin Clark scored 16 with seven assists and Aliyah Boston had a double-double of 10 points and 10 rebounds.

“I think tonight [it was] just simple things – simple principles – that we work on [that we didn’t do],” Wright said. “When the ball is on one side of the floor, everybody [goes] over, split line; in the gaps, [putting] pressure on the basketball, not letting easy post entries. That’s a principle of ours. They set a cross screen, [it’s about] understanding the post going under and the guard bumping high. It’s a principle of ours.

“It’s just the application of things that we’ve put in, we’ve taught throughout training camp and the rest of practice that we’re not able to execute right now. My job is to get in the gym, figure out what we can do and to try to get us to do that at a higher level.”

The Fever were dominant in the paint, outscoring the Dream 48-26. Atlanta shot 33.8% (23 of 65) from the field.

“We were really active, we’ve really been talking about ball pressure,” Fever coach Christie Sides said. “You’ve gotta put a lot of ball pressure on people and make everything difficult. Our post players were working in the post, not letting them get easy touches. We’ve been really working on these guard-to-guard screens that they run a lot of. [We were] just making everything hard. I thought we did that tonight. Our goal is to keep them under 84 [points]. We kept them at 79. I couldn’t be more proud of them.”

The Fever were solid from distance, too, hitting 11 of 21 shots beyond the arc. Clark was 4 of 8 and Mitchell was 3 of 4. Indiana hit five of its first six 3-point attempts, all in the first quarter.

Indiana (7-10) is red-hot, having won six of its last eight and four in a row. It was the first time since 2015 the Fever have won four in a row.

Atlanta Dream center Tina Charles (31) attempts a shot against Indiana Fever forward Aliyah Boston (7) during the second half at State Farm Arena, Friday, June 21, 2024, in Atlanta. Indiana won 91-79. (Jason Getz / AJC)

Credit: Jason Getz / Jason.Getz@ajc.com

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Credit: Jason Getz / Jason.Getz@ajc.com

Tina Charles was a bright spot for the Dream as she scored 24 points and pulled in seven rebounds. Like Wright, Charles was reflective and critical of her team.

“These players are still growing,” Charles said. “Some of them, it’s their third or fourth year. It is mental. Some of us [have] more [experience]. It’s the 10th season. It is [about] growth. For me personally I just dwell on toughness and effort. [Wright], no coach should have to coach your effort. That’s the main thing. You’re at this level. That shouldn’t come along with it. [Wright] always speaks on how we lose. She can take losses. But it’s how we’re doing it and it’s not fun.”

Another bright spot was Atlanta’s free throw shooting as the Dream got to the line 35 times and hit 31 free throws.

Atlanta is in third place in the Eastern Conference and the Dream will play second-place New York at Gateway Center Arena on Sunday.

“We don’t have time [to work on things], to be honest with you,” Wright said. “I can’t take them to the gym and pound them. [Charles played] 32 minutes; Allisha [Gray played] 34 minutes; 31 for Haley [Jones]; Naz [Hillmon] 26. We can’t get in the gym. It’s a mental thing. We have to find small, incremental ways to get better. Hopefully they go back and watch the film from tonight and see the areas where they could have been a little bit better.”