Chicago looks to stay hot against Phoenix (Jul 28, 2017)

BY AP • July 28, 2017

The improving Chicago Sky hope to avoid a three-game series sweep when they host the slumping Phoenix Mercury on Friday at Allstate Arena in Rosemont, Ill.

After going 3-12 over their first 15 games, the Sky are now 5-2 in their past seven despite an 83-72 loss at Connecticut on Tuesday.

"We were not playing clean defense, we fouled too much, gave up offensive rebounds and we just didn't bring the defensive intensity," Sky guard Allie Quigley said.

Chicago (8-14) climbed to within one point in the third quarter but couldn't overtake Connecticut, which then went on to a 22-7 run to secure the win.

Quigley tops the Sky and is 10th in WNBA scoring at 16.8 points per a game. Courtney Vandersloot leads the league in assists (7.1 per game), while Jessica Breland is tops on the team in rebounds, averaging six per game.

Phoenix (11-10) has lost four straight and sits fifth in the WNBA. The top eight teams make the playoffs.

The Mercury are coming off a 99-91 overtime loss at Atlanta and are still without league scoring leader Brittney Griner, who averaged 27.5 points against Chicago in two previous meetings. The Mercury beat the Sky 99-91 on June 2 and 86-78 on June 16.

Griner bruised a bone in her left knee and sprained a right ankle in mid-July. She could be out up to four weeks.

"No one can replace Brittney Griner," Phoenix coach Sandy Brondello said following the loss to the Dream. "We need all the post players to step up, no one in particular. We need the guards to step up because that's 22 points that we're missing. It's a team effort. All players have to step up to fill that hole."

Diana Taurasi, the WNBA's all-time scoring leader, has picked up the some of the slack in Griner's absence, producing a 32.5-point average in the past four games.

The Sky and Mercury are 8-8 in their past 16 meetings, and the Sky hold a 5-4 edge at Allstate Arena.

Chicago's days playing at the suburban arena are now numbered after the team announced this week that it would move back to Chicago with a five-year deal to play at Wintrust Arena near the McCormick Place exposition center starting in 2018.

The Sky played four seasons at the University of Illinois at Chicago Pavilion before moving to Allstate Arena in 2010.

Chicago continues a short homestand on Sunday, hosting the New York Liberty. Phoenix plays host to the San Antonio Stars on Sunday.

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