ATLANTA — It usually is not easy, but the Chicago Sky continue to find ways to beat the Atlanta Dream.
Erin Thorn had a season-high 20 points, and Chicago recovered after losing a 16-point lead to beat Atlanta 82-80 on Saturday night, ending the Dream's franchise-record winning streak at four games.
Candice Dupree added 17 points and 11 rebounds for Chicago.
The Dream (11-11) began the night alone in third place in the Eastern Conference, but with the loss fell back into a tie with Chicago (11-11). Connecticut (10-10) also is at .500 in the conference.
"It's going to go down to the wire," Chicago coach Steve Key said about the playoff race. "Our biggest thing is we're trying to win all the head-to-head games."
Key can cross the Dream off the Sky's list of head-to-head conference matchups.
Chicago completed its three-game sweep of the season series with the Dream. The sweep included a 99-98 overtime win in Atlanta on June 23 after the Dream used a 20-6 run to rally from an 18-point deficit in the fourth quarter.
On Saturday night, Dupree had seven points in a 14-4 run to open the second half, leaving the Sky with a 56-40 lead before Atlanta again rallied to pull even in the final period.
"We felt like it was deja vu from the last time we were here," Key said. "We've got to do a better job of protecting leads."
The Dream pulled within three points at 73-70 on a basket by Sancho Lyttle with 4:44 remaining. Lyttle's free throw cut the lead to two points, and Angel McCoughtry followed with a fast-break basket for a 73-73 tie with 2:52 remaining.
Sylvia Fowles scored on a layup and then grabbed a defensive rebound to set up a basket by Jia Perkins, giving Chicago a 77-73 lead.
McCoughtry, who had 10 points, scored on a drive with 26 seconds remaining to cut the Sky's lead to one at 78-77. After Perkins made one of two free throws, Ivory Latta's turnover with 14 seconds left set up two more free throws by Perkins.
Latta sank a 3-pointer with 3.7 seconds remaining.
"We will be better," said Atlanta coach Marynell Meadors. "This was not our A game. We know that and we still almost won."
Perkins had 14 points.
Thorn, a backup guard, scored in double figures in only three of Chicago's first 21 games but had 15 of the Sky's first 29 points, surpassing her previous season high of 14 points early in the second period.
"That's the good thing about us," Key said. "Over the season a lot of different people have stepped up and stepped up big."
Added Meadors of Thorn: "She was on, and it also was something the Dream didn't do. We didn't defend her."
Atlanta averaged 96.3 points in its four-game winning streak but lost its offensive momentum against Chicago. Chamique Holdsclaw made only two of eight shots for four points, 11.3 below her average.
Latta led Atlanta with 18 points.
"We fought hard," Latta said. "We fought back, especially in the second half. We just have to fight hard from the beginning to the end. We didn't start off well. We tried to end it well and it just didn't come out our way."
Erika DeSouza had 11 points and 15 rebounds and Lyttle also had a double-double with 10 points and 11 rebounds.