5:00 PM ET, August 21, 2011
Mohegan Sun Arena, Uncasville, CT
A failure to close out games has been hurting the Connecticut Sun's chances in the highly competitive Eastern Conference playoff race.After blowing double-digit leads in back-to-back losses, the Sun look to rebound when they host the Atlanta Dream in the finale of a home-and-home series Sunday.Connecticut (16-10) is in second place in the East and in a tight battle with Indiana for the top spot. After the last two games, however, the Sun may need to be more concerned with the teams behind them.One of them is fourth-place Atlanta (13-12), which has won three in a row and trails Connecticut by 2 1/2 games. The top two teams in each conference earn home-court advantage in the first round of the playoffs.The Sun squandered a 17-point lead after three quarters to New York on Thursday -- they led by 19 earlier in the game -- and lost 84-81 in overtime. They couldn't hold a 14-point first-half advantage the next night, falling 94-88 in OT to Atlanta.Connecticut had 21 turnovers which led to 25 Dream points. Sancho Lyttle hit the second 3-pointer of her career with 12.2 seconds remaining and Allison Hightower's potential game-winner in regulation was blocked by Angel McCoughtry."We had too many turnovers in the second half," Sun coach Mike Thibault said. "When you give up 25 points off turnovers, you're just asking for trouble."Tina Charles had 15 points, 11 rebounds and a season high-tying five blocked shots, but committed a season-worst eight of those 25 giveaways.Connecticut could continue to have problems taking care of the ball Sunday, as Atlanta has forced at least 20 turnovers in each game of its winning streak. The Dream lead the WNBA in forcing turnovers at 17.6 a contest.The Sun hope a return home will help them recover from the heartbreaking defeats. They are 11-2 at Mohegan Sun Arena and beat Atlanta 99-92 there July 31.However, the venue might not matter if McCoughtry has another game like she did Friday. She finished with 26 points and a season-high 12 rebounds, hitting a pair of jumpers in the final 66 seconds after Connecticut had pulled within one.McCoughtry, among the league leaders with 20.3 points per game, has scored 49 in the last two contests."She's a winner," Atlanta coach Marynell Meadors said. "She finds a way to score and she finds a way to defend. That block she made at the end of the game was huge."Lyttle's 20 points were a season high. She's reached double figures in three straight games after being held to fewer than 10 in the previous six.The Dream have won five of six and limited their last three opponents to an average of 76.7 points.After this contest, Atlanta heads back out on the road for three games after returning from a four-game trip Friday.