Nicky Anosike walked off the court, through the underground of Target Center, trying to blend in with the gray cement walls around her. LaToya Thomas tried touching her teammate's shoulder. Anosike shook her head.
Lindsey Harding trekked through, chucked her gum in a garbage can and didn't blink the rest of the way.
Seimone Augustus walked with Navonda Moore, saying over and over, "We just gotta make plays."
Leading by as many as 15, the Lynx looked poised to hand the Atlanta Dream their 18th loss in 19 games. Instead, the Lynx fell below .500 for the first time this season, suffering a miserable 73-67 defeat in front of an announced crowd of 5,863.
The Lynx (9-10) made only eight of 14 free throws in the fourth quarter. On their final two possessions, Nicole Ohlde had a shot blocked and Augustus threw a bad pass that resulted in a turnover.
Asked if there's a way to establish better mental focus to avoid missing free throws down the stretch, Lynx coach Don Zierden said: "If I knew the answer to that, I wouldn't be coaching. I'd bottle it up and sell it to everybody."
The expansion Dream (2-17) had the opposite issue. Atlanta scored six points on 3-for-18 shooting in the first quarter. But it ended the game on a 13-1 run, shooting 71 percent in the fourth quarter and taking the lead for the first time in the game with 1 minute, 30 seconds left. Betty Lennox led all scorers with 24 points.
The Lynx led 38-26 at halftime and had eight players score. Augustus played with flair for the first three quarters, during which she scored all of her 17 points. She even laid one in after doing a quick, 360-degree turn that left her defender dizzy. But she didn't net a basket in the final quarter.
Anosike's story read the same. She fought for the ball all game, grabbing a team-high eight rebounds to go along with 11 points. But she missed two free throws with 90 seconds left.
Candice Wiggins, the WNBA rookie of the month for June, led the Lynx in spirit through the bumps, but couldn't get it done either, shooting 1-for-4 beyond the arc in the fourth quarter.
A week ago, the Dream didn't have a single victory. Zierden said that didn't affect anything about the way his team played. At least, it wasn't supposed to.
"My biggest concern tonight was, we start that third quarter, we missed about three or four chippies, and you can't do that," he said. "That takes a 12-point lead and moves it to 16 or 18, and that makes it tougher to come back. ... I know a minimum of six layups we missed, and those come back to haunt you down the stretch."