SEATTLE—The Atlanta Dream have gone from expansion laughingstocks to playoff contenders in one season.
Sancho Lyttle scored 20 points to lead Atlanta to a 88-79 win over the Seattle Storm on Saturday night and move the Dream into sole possession of second place in the Eastern Conference.
"We're not thinking about the playoffs yet, we're just trying to win games and keep getting better," Lyttle said. "Everything has come together for us since the All-Star break."
Lauren Jackson scored a game-high 25 points and went over the 5,000-point career milestone, but the Storm (13-11) lost for the fourth time in five games. Seattle is second in the Western Conference.
"I don't care about milestone or how many points I score," Jackson said. "We need wins right now and we're not playing consistent enough to get them."
Jackson, who entered the game with 4,999 points, reached the milestone with a driving left-handed layup less than three minutes into the game. She is the fourth WNBA player to score at least 5,000 points, joining Lisa Leslie, Katie Smith and Tina Thompson. Leslie just passed the 6,000-point mark earlier this season.
Angel McCoughtry added 16 points for the Dream (13-11), who also got 13 points and 12 rebounds from Erika de Souza. Atlanta has won six of its past seven games.
"I thought Atlanta played really well," Seattle coach Brian Agler said. "They are an excellent basketball team. They might be as good as there is in the league at this point."
Atlanta took charge with a 14-4 run in the fourth quarter, opening up a 13-point lead with just over 5 minutes remaining. Seattle made a run, cutting the margin to four points in the final minute, but Lyttle iced the Atlanta win with a rebound basket.
"We ran out on them a little hit in the fourth quarter and I though that was the difference in the game," Atlanta coach Marynell Meadors said. "The depth of our team is really good. I thought we tired them out just a little bit."
Swin Cash and Tanisha Wright each had 12 points for Seattle, while Sue Bird dished out 12 assists.
Atlanta wore pink uniforms as part of as part of a breast health awareness event. Pink basketballs were handed to breast cancer survivors prior to the game and the uniforms were auctioned off afterwards to benefit cancer foundations.
The Dream continue a six-game home stand by hosting San Antonio on Thursday. The Storm conclude a three-game road trip at Detroit on Tuesday.
They are 1-6 against the Eastern Conference this season and have six games remaining against that conference.
"We don't know the teams from the East as well, but they don't know us either," said Bird. "There is no excuse. We can't keep losing these games, no matter who we are playing."