Christmas scores 18 to lead Fever in 77-70 win over Dream


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ATLANTA — The Indiana Fever don't seem to have any problems winning in Atlanta.

Karima Christmas scored a season high-tying 18 points and Sydney Carter had all of her 11 points in the second half to lead the Fever to a 77-70 victory over the Dream on Tuesday night.

Indiana leading scorer Shavonte Zellous also scored 11 points on 3-for-14 shooting to help the Fever (7-9) get their second win in Atlanta this season.

"With Carter, having another guard really helped us. She and Christmas are MVPs," Indiana coach Lin Dunn said. "Sydney had a real bad ankle sprain. We're getting her back in the lineup. I could have done a better job getting her more minutes . . . she looks like her old self."

Carter, who was briefly with the Dream last season, scored a career-high 14 points when the Fever won 82-77 in overtime in Atlanta on May 25.

Indiana led 71-70 when Carter was whistled for charging with 57.5 seconds left in the game. Since it happened in the final minute, officials called for a review and decided that Atlanta defender Tiffany Hayes was in the restricted area. With that, the basket counted and Carter added a free throw to push the lead to 74-70.

"I used to not be a fan of reviews because it lengthens the game, but now I'm a super fan," Dunn said. "If had been at 1:07, hey, no review and the momentum swings to them and it could have been a different ball game."

Dream reserve Amanda Thompson committed a turnover moments later and Christmas added three free throws down the stretch to close the scoring for the Fever.

Erika de Souza scored 23 points for the Dream (11-5), who lost for just the second time in nine home games this season — both losses coming against the Fever. Atlanta leading scorer Angel McCoughtry added 17 points on 6-for-18 shooting.

The Dream were 0 for 13 on 3-point attempts.

"Our team is not built around 3-point shooting . . . we're an inside team," Atlanta coach Michael Cooper said after his team had a 42-28 edge on inside scoring. "Championships are won in the paint, and I thought we did that tonight. I just thought we came up short on the free throws.

"Toward the end, we executed defensively as well as offensively, and that got us within reach until the replay."

Atlanta's final lead came when Celine Dumerc made two free throws for a 20-19 edge with 1:44 left in the first quarter.

Trailing 70-61 after Zellous made a layup with 3:57 left in the game, the Dream went on a 9-1 run to make it close. De Souza's two free throws with 1:12 to go pulled Atlanta within a point before the charge/block play at the other end would swing the game for good.

"It's very intense when we play Atlanta," Zellous said, mindful of the fact the teams have split four games this season with each winning once in overtime. "We had a tough game against them at home Sunday, and we let it slip away from us in the fourth quarter. We were determined not to let that happen again."

Christmas entered the game averaging 7.3 points, but has averaged 14.5 over the past six contests.

The Fever's biggest lead was 37-25 on Marissa Coleman's 3-pointers on consecutive Indiana possessions with 3:49 left in the first half.

Indiana, which has played all season without Tamika Catchings (sore back), entered the game 10th in the WNBA in rebounding (32.2 per game) while Atlanta was No. 1 (38.0). However, the Fever outworked the Dream on the boards 20-16 over the first two quarters as Christmas grabbed six off the bench to help Indiana take a 40-34 lead at the break.

Atlanta tied the score twice in the third quarter, first on a basket by McCoughtry and later on a short jumper by Thompson, but Indiana scored the period's final four points on two free throws each by Briann January and Christmas.

Those shots left the WNBA's 10th-ranked free-throw shooting team 20 for 21 from the line through three quarters. The Fever finished 27 for 30 to Atlanta's 20 for 32.

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