INDIANAPOLIS -- The Indiana Fever felt they needed to remind the league who they were. The Atlanta Dream happened to be in the way.
Tamika Catchings had 23 points and 11 rebounds and Katie Douglas added 20 points to help the Fever beat the first-place Dream 89-70 on Friday night.
The Fever bounced back from a home loss to Connecticut on Wednesday to draw within one game of Atlanta for the Eastern Conference lead.
"I think everybody sent a message that we are the defending Eastern Conference champions, and it's not going to be easy to come in here and steal another game from us," Douglas said.
Catchings shot 9 for 15 from the field and had six steals. Reserve Jessica Davenport scored 17 points in 22 minutes, and Ebony Hoffman added 17 points for Indiana (12-7).
Davenport fell one point short of her career high for the Fever. She led a bench that outscored Atlanta's reserves 27-19.
"Bringing energy, that's what the bench is all about," Davenport said. "Whoever we come in for, we bring that energy, and I thought I did that tonight."
Angel McCoughtry scored 27 points for the Dream (14-7). Iziane Castro Marques, who began the day sixth in the league in scoring at 18 points per game, was held to five points on 2-for-11 shooting.
Atlanta has lost both of its games since the All-Star break.
"Just disappointed with our play," McCoughtry said. "We have a second half of the season to play. We need to keep our heads up."
Indiana shot 52 percent from the field, including 61 percent in the second half.
"I think it was kind of like two games within a game," Catchings said. "The first half was a lot more uptempo. The second half we finally slowed down and executed our half-court offense."
Atlanta entered the game second in the league in scoring at 86 points per game, but the Dream shot 39 percent (23 for 59) in their worst loss of the season.
A key for Indiana was its defense on the speedy Castro Marques. Douglas drew the assignment for much of the night, but she said she got help.
"I just tried to put my running shoes on and go as fast as she goes," Douglas said. "She's so athletic, she's having her best year. We tried to limit her early stuff that gets her going, and we tried to keep her frustrated in the second half.
Catchings reached double figures in points on a bank shot with 8:55 left in the second quarter. She had 15 points and seven rebounds in the first half as Indiana led 41-37 at the break and outrebounded the Dream 20-13.
McCoughtry had 14 points before halftime, including seven from the free-throw line.
Castro Marques made a 3-pointer that bounced off the front of the rim and in, then Shalee Lehning made a layup after a Fever turnover to give Atlanta a 46-45 lead early in the third quarter.
Indiana regrouped, and Briann January's driving layup in the closing seconds of the period gave the Fever a 66-60 advantage.
A layup by Davenport early in the fourth quarter extended Indiana's lead to 10. A jumper by January from the top of the key pushed the lead to 73-60.
Indiana held Atlanta scoreless for the first 3:05 of the fourth quarter. A technical foul was called on frustrated Dream coach Marynell Meadors with 4:34 to play.
It was the kind of result the Fever needed heading into Sunday's game at New York.
"I think we all felt a little bit better," Davenport said. "I think we're going to build on this and carry it over."