Dream bounce back with big win over Mercury

Atlanta Dream Kristy Wallace jokes with a teammate during a session at Atlanta Dream training camp on Monday, April 18, 2022. Miguel Martinez/miguel.martinezjimenez@ajc.com

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Atlanta Dream Kristy Wallace jokes with a teammate during a session at Atlanta Dream training camp on Monday, April 18, 2022. Miguel Martinez/miguel.martinezjimenez@ajc.com

Kristy Wallace had 17 points to lead five Atlanta players scoring in double figures and the Dream beat the Phoenix Mercury 82-54 on Sunday at Gateway Center Arena.

The 28-point margin of victory was Atlanta’s largest since beating the Los Angeles Sparks by 30 in 2015. It was the Dream’s eighth-largest margin of victory in history.

“I was happy with our defense,” Dream coach Tanisha Wright said. “I thought we translated what we worked on. We did a lot of working on ourselves and getting better for ourselves. But I thought we translated from what we worked on against Phoenix to the game time and because of that I think the outcome of it is really good for us.”

The Dream improved to 5-3 after back-to-back losses to the Washington Mystics.

Erica Wheeler scored 16 points, Cheyenne Parker had 12 points and 10 rebounds, and Rhyne Howard had 12 points with six assists for Atlanta. Aari McDonald finished with 10 points, eight rebounds, five assists and two steals. Monique Billings made her return after missing three games due to health and safety protocol) and had eight rebounds.

“I think it started on the defensive end, good offense comes from good defense,” Wallace said of her season-high point total. “My teammates were able to find me in open spots. We tried to attack and kind of expose them on that end. But it’s the credit of my teammates for finding me and for getting open as well, on the dribble.”

The Dream never trailed, took at 12-point lead at the end of the first quarter and limited Phoenix (2-6) to just eight points in the second to take a 50-23 lead into halftime.

Diamond DeShields, the only Mercury player to score in double figures, finished with 23 points. Skylar Diggins-Smith (19.2 points per game) and Diana Taurasi (16.0) — the team’s top scorers — combined for nine points on 3-of-17 shooting. Phoenix has lost five consecutive games.

The Dream announced their third sellout crowd of the season with an attendance of 3,138.

“I mean the energy is great, compared to last season even, it’s like day and night,” Parker said. “The vibes, the energy, the excitement, I think it’s really great just to have that and just to feed off of that.”

The Dream host the Minnesota Lynx on Wednesday.