ATLANTA — Call Atlanta Dream coach Marynell Meadors a realist. A 13-game losing streak to start a franchise’s history can easily strip away early optimism.
"I’m going to lose this year, OK?" the coach said.
"We know the chances of us having a great year are not good."
Cheryl Ford had 20 points and 12 rebounds to help the Detroit Shock beat Atlanta 97-76 Sunday, sending the expansion Dream to a WNBA-record tying 13th straight loss to start the season.
The Dream became the second team in league history to open 0-13, matching Detroit in 2002. But there is reason to have hope; the Shock bounced back the next year to win the WNBA title.
"Man, we just have to get that monkey off our back," said Ivory Latta, who scored a career-high 26 points and 10 assists.
Chicago lost 13 straight after winning its first game as a franchise in 2006.
Gainesville High graduate Tasha Humphrey and Katie Smith scored 16 points apiece for Detroit, which has won three in a row since losing consecutive games during a four-game road trip. Humphrey, a former University of Georgia star, also had five steals.
Before the season started, Shock coach Bill Laimbeer was unsure about Humphrey making the team because he said she was overweight.
She trimmed off 20 pounds, enabling her to become more agile and athletic.
"She had a lot of baby fat at first," Laimbeer said. "We were unsure about her making the team. But since she dropped 20 pounds, she is able to contribute more to this team."
Betty Lennox, fifth in the league in scoring with 18.9 points per game, scored five on 2-for-6 shooting. Iziane Castro Marques added 10 points.
The Shock controlled much of the game, taking a 23-point lead — their largest of the game — on Plenette Pierson’s short jumper with 1:30 left in the first half.
A 3-pointer by Latta cut the lead to 68-60 with 47 seconds left in the third quarter. But Detroit (10-3) answered with eight straight points, capped by Humphrey’s 3 just before the end of period, and two free throws by Ford at the start of the fourth.
"We kept our composure and took care of business," Laimbeer said.
Detroit will begin a home-and-home series on the road against Connecticut on Wednesday night. Laimbeer insisted that the Shock are the best team and that they have more momentum heading into the matchup.
"I think we can match up to anyone in the league," he said. "We feel really good going against them. We’ll be ready to play."
After Atlanta tied the game at 14, the Shock scored 12 straight points in the last 1:45 of the first quarter. Meadors said her young Dream squad needs to learn how to overcome their often dismal periods.
"It’s something we need to get over quickly," she said. "We have young players out there now. But I can’t set the blame on that anymore because we’re 13 games in now."
The Shock also outrebounded Dream 44-30 and had 14 more offensive rebounds than them as well.
"Our lack of rebounding really defeated us," she said.
Earlier, the Shock traded former No. 1 draft pick LaToya Thomas to the Minnesota Lynx for Shay Murphy. Thomas, selected first by the Cleveland Rockers in 2003, averaged 1.1 points and 0.7 rebounds in sparse minutes for the Shock this season and will be playing for her fifth team in six years.
"We had too many forwards and couldn’t get her any playing time," Laimbeer said. "I’m not going to bury anybody on the bench that can play. I always try to find my players a home so they can."