Fever beat Dream to end WNBA record-tying 20-game losing skid

Fever break 20-game losing streak behind NaLyssa Smith's big game (1:41)

NaLyssa Smith leads the Indiana Fever to their first win in nearly a year. (1:41)

After nearly a year, the Indiana Fever are back in the win column.

The Fever beat the Atlanta Dream 90-87 on Sunday, Indiana's first victory since June 19, 2022. It ended a 20-game losing streak, which was tied for the longest in WNBA history.

"We talked about it from Day 1 in our team meeting: Culture is the most important thing," Fever coach Christie Sides said. "Culture, playing hard, being the hardest-working team in practice. And I promise you, coaches say it all the time, but these guys have worked really hard every day."

The Fever have not made the playoffs since the retirement of franchise legend Tamika Catchings in 2016. Their postseason drought followed 12 consecutive playoff appearances for the franchise, including three trips to the WNBA Finals and the 2012 league championship.

Last season marked the franchise's low point in victories, with Indiana going 5-31. Coach Marianne Stanley was fired May 25, 2022, with the Fever sitting at 2-7. She was replaced on an interim basis by Carlos Knox, who went 3-24.

The Fever beat the Chicago Sky 89-87 in Indianapolis on June 19, 2022, but then closed out the regular season with 18 straight losses.

Sides was hired as the Fever's new coach Nov. 4.

Indiana held the No. 1 pick in April's WNBA draft for the first time in franchise history and used it to select South Carolina star Aliyah Boston. Boston has been a very steady performer for the Fever thus far, recording 13 points and 7 rebounds Sunday against the Dream.

Leading the way for Indiana on Sunday was forward NaLyssa Smith, who finished with 23 points and 13 rebounds. Smith was the No. 2 overall pick in 2022 out of Baylor.

The Fever opened the 2023 season with losses to the Connecticut Sun and New York Liberty, tying them with the 2011 Tulsa Shock for the longest losing streak in league history. That Shock team lost 20 in a row from June 21 to Aug. 25, 2011, then won two in a row before falling in their last six games to finish 3-31.

The Shock, who had moved from Detroit after the 2009 season, moved to Dallas and became the Wings in 2016.

Sides said Sunday's victory was just one step, but a big one.

"We're building something here, and that's going to take time," she said. "This was just a huge piece for us to get this win -- on the road, home opener for Atlanta, great crowd. Everyone focused on their role and did exactly what they were supposed to do. Those are the things we've been working on."