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In Sylvia Fowles' five seasons in Chicago, her team has finished no better than fifth in the Eastern Conference.

With Elena Delle Donne providing a big boost in the season's first two months, the Sky don't figure to be watching the playoffs from home in 2013.

Chicago goes for a season-best fourth straight victory as it opens a home-and-home set with the New York Liberty in Thursday's matinee in Newark.

A two-time All-Star and the 2011 Defensive Player of the Year, Fowles has been unable to guide the Sky to their first playoff appearance since they drafted her No. 2 overall in 2008.

But after three consecutive 14-20 finishes, Chicago (10-4) has a different look in 2013.

"Over the past few years, it's been frustrating, but it's always been fun," Fowles, the league leader with 11.8 rebounds per game, said after Friday's 83-70 victory at Connecticut. "I can say this has been one of the most fun years I've ever had."

Delle Donne, the league's top rookie scorer with 19.1 points per game, deserves much of the credit. She's shooting 39.5 percent from 3-point range, 95.3 percent from the foul line and is a likely All-Star starter when the league makes that official announcement Thursday night.

"We have a sense of urgency this year, plus adding a pretty good player," Fowles, the reigning Eastern Conference player of the week, said. "Elena has a big part to do with (the winning). For us to officially have a true 4, she brings a lot. She's a threat. It makes everything else click."

The Liberty (6-8) don't need to be reminded. After scoring a season-high 26 points and helping Chicago rally from 17 down in the first quarter of an 87-74 home win over New York on June 26, Delle Donne finished with a team-best 20 in a 93-64 victory at New York on July 7.

Brooklyn native Epiphanny Prince added 18 points to send the Liberty to their most-lopsided loss in Newark, where they've played their home games since 2011. The Sky have won three straight as the road team in this series.

They'll face a New York team Liberty coach Bill Laimbeer called "not that good" after Saturday's 74-53 loss to visiting Indiana.

"We have to play so hard and be so efficient to be able to just get a win," Laimbeer said.

Scoring and turnovers are major concerns for the Liberty, who haven't put up more than 66 points in their last three games. New York leads the league with 18.7 turnovers per game, and finished with 22 Saturday while being held to 19 second-half points.

"It's the same bugaboo we have every game, turnovers got us in a snit," Laimbeer said. "I warned our players earlier in the season that it would be difficult for us to score this year."

Guard Cappie Pondexter has a team-best 39 points against Chicago this season. The other Liberty starters have combined for 42 in those contests.

These teams meet again Saturday in Chicago.



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