By NOEY KUPCHAN
(AP) -- Playing with heavy hearts, the Eastern Conference-leading Atlanta Dream haven't been able to get it together without coach Michael Cooper.
While they've taken care of business against Washington thus far, the surging Mystics may be able to break through this time around.
The Dream try to snap their longest losing streak of the year when they visit Washington, which hopes to avoid a four-game season sweep Sunday.
After suffering a last-second 77-75 defeat at New York on July 16 and a 112-108 double-overtime loss at Minnesota on Tuesday, Atlanta (15-8) again came up just short against Chicago on Friday. The Dream stormed back from 18 down to tie the score with 4:57 to play before falling 79-75 in their second game without Cooper.
Diagnosed with tongue cancer earlier in the week, Cooper remains on medical leave after undergoing surgery Thursday.
"Coop is doing great," said assistant coach Karleen Thompson, who continues to fill in. "Everything went well. He is going to make a full recovery. We're ready for him to come back, of course, and I know him, he's not ever going to not be thinking of his team."
Angel McCoughtry, among the WNBA leaders with 19.7 points per game, was held to 12 while shooting 5 of 17. She also committed a season-high seven of the team's 21 turnovers.
Sitting four games ahead of the Mystics (12-13), Atlanta has taken each of this season's first three meetings by an average of 10.3 points. The Dream won 86-73 on July 5 thanks to a 42-26 edge in the paint.
Another victory could be harder to come by if Washington's recent efforts are any indication. The Mystics had dropped 10 of 13 before winning five of their last six, including a season best-tying three in a row.
While it wasn't pretty, Washington held on to beat Tulsa 82-77 on Friday. The Mystics took a 15-point lead into the fourth quarter before missing their first 12 shots, going 1 of 13 from the field over the final 10 minutes.
"I don't know if I've ever been in a game where (we) won with one field goal in the fourth quarter. Interesting game. You guys ask the questions. I don't even know where to start," coach Mike Thibault said. "Survive and move on. The good part is in 10 days, (looking at the) standings, nobody will remember how or why, just that we survived."
All-Star Ivory Latta scored 17 and Monique Currie set a WNBA record for most points without a field goal, going 16 of 18 from the foul line. Latta is averaging 18.3 points over the last three games, up from her season mark of 12.0.
The Mystics are the East's top defensive team, surrendering 75.2 points per game.
Updated July 26, 2014