"We fought hard. We fought hard all year long," Atlanta coach Marynell Meadors said after the Dream lost to the Lynx 73-67 on Friday in Philips Arena in Atlanta. The victory gave the Lynx a 3-0 sweep of the best-of-five WNBA Finals.
"We went through so much adversity from the beginning of the season to the end," said Meadors, whose team was plagued by injuries. "I appreciate their effort. I appreciated everything they have given to this Atlanta organization. And they played as hard as they could.
"We just ran out. We were not supposed to even get into the playoffs the way we started [3-9]. And then we were not supposed to win [the Eastern Conference] playoffs, but we did. And then we got to this moment and we up against an outstanding basketball team. The Minnesota Lynx, congratulations to them. They have an awesome team."
Yet the Dream led at halftime of every game. With 2:10 left in the game, the Lynx were clinging to a 61-56 lead when rookie Maya Moore made a three-point just as the horn, signaling a shot clock violation, went off.
Her three gave the Lynx a 64-56 lead.
"If Maya Moore's shot doesn't go in, who knows what is going to happen," Meadors said. "We had the momentum and we had them back-pedaling. It wasn't in the cards for us to win it. Maybe the third time is the charm. [Atlanta lost in the WNBA Finals 3-0 to Seattle last year.] But we aren't even supposed to be this good, this early in our franchise history."
The Dream were an expansion franchise in 2008 and in their first season won only four games. So Meadors has done a remarkable job as head coach and general manager.
"We went on a roll [this season] and once we were rolling, we were pretty good," Meadors said. "When we played Connecticut in the first round of the Eastern Conference [this year], we were not supposed to win. Then we went to Indiana, lost the first game, but came back and won the next two. We were not supposed to win that [series] either.
"In the championship round, we have to give credit to Minnesota," Meadors said. "Minnesota was just really, really good tonight. Neither one of us scored very well. They scored enough and they hit their free throws. We didn't hit our free throws and we didn't hit our easy shots. Had we done that, we might have been sitting here as winners."
The Lynx were 16 for 24 on free throws, the Dream 11 for 16. So the Lynx actually missed more free throws, eight, than the Dream, five. But free throws were a big part of the game. The Lynx's final nine points came at the free throw line.
Another big key to the game was the third quarter. The Lynx, who trailed 37-33 at halftime, outscored the Dream 19-8 in the third quarter.
"We came out real sluggish in the third quarter and we shouldn't have," Meadors said. "If we kept playing, we probably would have been better off. Sometimes when you are physically tired and you go, go, go, and you are running on adrenalin and momentum and all those things, once you stop, it kind of lets the air out of your tires. We came out very flat in the third quarter. And that is when we missed a lot of easy shots."