Mohegan - There's no one else in the WNBA that can infuriate better than the Atlanta Dream, whose games are either measured by first downs or evolve with the efficiency of a soccer riot.
But somewhere amid a combined 42 fouls and 40 turnovers Sunday, the Connecticut Sun completed a successful weekend with a 92-73 win over the two-time defending Eastern Conference champs.
The Sun entered the game not quite 48 hours removed from a road win at Indiana, the preseason choice among media and general managers to win the Eastern Conference.
"That game had a little bit of everything," Sun coach Mike Thibault said. "Angry people. On both sides. That's a big win for us."
And it came against the team that eliminated the Sun from the 2011 playoffs. Atlanta (3-5) played without center Erika DeSouza and Iziane Castro-Marques, both of whom have decided to stay home until after the Olympic break. But the uniform - and strategy - still said "Atlanta."
"They try to put it on officials to make foul calls," Thibault said. "They jump into you. They flop a little bit. They have one that's really good at flopping."
Thibault wouldn't identify the Atlanta player, although it's likely he referred to Angel McCoughtry.
"It puts a tough onus on officials. Those are hard calls to make," Thibault said. "They gamble in passing lanes and see if you're willing to make an extra pass. When we did, we got really good looks."
Tina Charles set a franchise record for double-digit scoring games, earning her 19th straight. Charles finished with 22 points, 11 rebounds and a notable fadeaway, left-handed hook that helped earn her a standing ovation by game's end from the 6,526 fans.
Kara Lawson finished with 21 points, becoming the third player in Sun history to hit 5-of-5 three-point shots in the same game. Lawson joins teammate Tan White (last July at Indiana) and Evina Maltsi (July 7, 2007 at Los Angeles).
Connecticut shot 62 percent from the field, the second highest in team history, behind the aforementioned game in Los Angeles.
The numbers bear significance, if only because the Sun's early exit from the 2011 playoffs resulted from insufficient production against Atlanta's defense.
"It was a good weekend for us, but I don't think we're going to make anything of this," Charles said. "The past few years, we've had great runs and other teams catch up. Our focus is we have L.A. coming up."
The Sun led by 19 in the third period before Atlanta got within six, 73-67, with 6:50 remaining. But the Sun used an 11-0 run, holding Atlanta scoreless for 4:22 to earn their sixth win and stay atop the Eastern Conference.
Charles scored six of the points during the 11-0 run, while Lawson hit her final three-pointer of the game.
Asjha Jones finished with 17 points, 15 of which came in the first half. After Thibault removed her for her first rest of the game, Lawson said to her, "keep doing what you're doing and you might get 60."
Jones said, "I figured there's no way they'd keep letting me get shots like that."
Renee Montgomery had 14 points, six rebounds, three assists and five turnovers. Mistie Mims had nine points off the bench and has made 10 of her last 11 shots from the field.
McCoughtry led the Dream with 23 points, but on 7-for-24 shooting. Sancho Lyttle had 21.
"It's not even that they shot 62 percent," McCoughtry said. "If they had shot 50 percent they are still a good team. They have so many weapons and they have been together a long time. They have the experience and they are hungry. I have watched this team and they have come a long way from not making it to the playoffs to just dominating the league."
The Sun players didn't share McCoughtry's enthusiasm.
"We're kind of ahead of the curve right now," Jones said. "Some teams are still trying to find themselves. They're missing a lot of players they had last year. So we're trying to not get too far ahead of ourselves. Other teams will probably get better in the end."