Guard Tiffany Hayes made a statement in her return to action for the Atlanta Dream on Thursday, leading the team with 21 points in a 92-81 overtime victory at the New York Liberty. It was the first game this WNBA season for Hayes, who had been out with a knee injury.
Hayes, 32, is the longest-tenured current member of the Dream; this is her 10th season in the league after being drafted by Atlanta out of UConn in 2012. She re-signed as a free agent with the Dream in February.
The Dream came under new ownership before last season and got a new general manager last October. Atlanta traded to get the No. 1 pick in the 2022 draft and took Rhyne Howard, currently the front-runner for WNBA Rookie of the Year and an All-Star in her first season.
"Everybody can see the changes, and I'm just glad I'm able to be here and be a part of it," Hayes said Thursday after going 8-of-15 from the field in almost 30 minutes of play. "Definitely wanted to stay in Atlanta for as long as I could.
"Me going out there and doing my thing is probably a thank you for them coming in and making those changes. Just happy to be here."
The Dream, whose last postseason appearance was in 2018, are 9-11 and in playoff position. They got back another key player, guard Erica Wheeler, on Tuesday after she had missed six games with a foot injury. Wheeler hit the game-tying 3-pointer at the end of regulation, and then the Dream dominated the overtime 13-2.
The Dream acquired guard AD Durr, the No. 2 pick by New York in the 2019 draft, in a trade in early June. Durr made a return to the Big Apple on Thursday and scored five points.