Sky 67, Dream 56
The standings show Chicago is clearly the team to beat in the Eastern Conference. Now that they've won in Atlanta, the Sky can believe it.
Rookie Elena Delle Donne scored 25 points and Chicago strengthened its hold on the Eastern Conference lead by beating the cold-shooting Atlanta Dream 67-56 on Saturday night.
The win evened the season series at 1-1 following Chicago's 88-74 loss at Atlanta on June 16.
''More than anything, we just wanted to see where we match up,'' Delle Donne said. ''We left here last time with a bad taste.''
Sylvia Fowles had 10 points and 13 rebounds and Swin Cash had 12 points for the Sky (20-8). Chicago, which has won five straight, stretched its lead in the East to 4 1/2 games over second-place Atlanta.
''We didn't even play our best basketball, but our defense was consistent,'' Delle Donne said.
Angel McCoughtry had 20 points for the Dream (14-11), who fell to 11-2 at home. McCoughtry opened the game by sinking a jumper, but that 2-0 advantage was Atlanta's only lead.
The Dream matched their fewest points in franchise history and set the mark for their lowest field-goal percentage (28.6 percent).
It was Atlanta's worst offensive showing since the third game in franchise history. The Dream also scored 56 points while shooting 29.2 percent from the field against Los Angeles on May 25, 2008.
Atlanta coach Fred Williams said fatigue was a factor as the Dream committed 22 turnovers while losing its second game in as many days, following Friday night's 74-64 loss at Washington.
''I think with our shooting, basically we've just got to get more quality shots,'' Williams said.
McCoughtry made only 6 of 26 shots and had seven turnovers. Alex Bentley, who had 12 points, shot 5 for 14.
Erika de Souza had 12 points and 16 rebounds and blocked two shots for Atlanta.
Chicago attacked inside early, taking advantage of its size advantage with the Delle Donne (6-foot-5) and Fowles (6-6). The Sky's first five field goals were all inside baskets from Delle Donne, Fowles and Cash.
The matchups worked against Atlanta, which lost 6-4 forward Sancho Lyttle to a fractured left foot on July 9. Lyttle was still wearing a walking boot as she sat on the Atlanta bench Saturday night. She is aiming to return before the end of the regular season.
Atlanta center de Souza could match up with Fowles, but Williams couldn't find an answer for Delle Donne, the standout rookie from Delaware who is averaging 18.1 points per game, third in the league.
''I think they were trying to change it up a little bit between defenders, but they were spending a lot of time trying to guard Sylvia,'' Delle Donne said. ''When that happens, it always opens me up. That's why we are a multifaceted team. If one player is being focused on, another player steps up.''
Le'coe Willingham, Courtney Clements and McCoughtry were assigned to Delle Donne. McCoughtry drew a quick foul when she took her turn with the tough defensive assignment.
Following a 4-4 tie, Chicago took the lead with an 11-0 run that was capped by Delle Donne's 3-pointer. The Sky stretched the lead to 16 points at 28-12 by scoring the first 10 points of the second quarter.
Atlanta twice cut the lead to two points late in the third period, the last time at 43-41 on a basket by Aneika Henry. Chicago answered with an 8-0 run that carried into the final period, pushing the lead back to 10.
Atlanta's Armintie Herrington left with a head injury less than 1 minute into the second half and did not return. With Herrington and Delle Donne both off their feet during a chase for a loose ball, Delle Donne rolled over Herrington's head. No foul was called and Herrington was left on one end of the court, holding her head, as play shifted to the other end.
Herrington rose to her feet and, still holding her head, was escorted to the locker room. There was no immediate report after the game on the severity of the injury.
''All I know is it's a bump and a bruise on her head,'' Williams said.
Dream guard Tiffany Hayes, who scored a combined 56 points in her last three games, was held out with a sore left knee.