The Chicago Sky have wasted little time returning to their winning ways with Elena Delle Donne back in the lineup.
The second-year player looks to keep working her way back to All-Star form, and the Sky continue their push toward a playoff spot by seeking a third straight win Tuesday night against the last-place Connecticut Sun.
Delle Donne averaged 24.4 points while helping the Sky open 5-2 before she was limited to seven points on 3-of-10 shooting in a 38-point loss at Atlanta on June 7.
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Chicago then went 5-13 over a stretch in which Delle Donne missed 17 games while seeking treatment for what she believed was a recurrence of Lyme Disease, which she had previously battled in college.
Delle Donne has returned to the Sky (12-16) seemingly just in time as the team attempts to nail down an Eastern Conference playoff berth for the second straight season.
After winning two in a row since the reigning rookie of the year’s return, Chicago has closed to within a half-game of the final playoff spot and is one game back of second place.
Delle Donne had 10 points in 10 minutes in Thursday’s 87-74 home win over New York in her first action since June 25 before scoring 21 on 7-of-12 shooting in 16 minutes in Sunday’s 76-65 victory over visiting Washington.
”The only thing holding me back a little bit right now is my lungs," she said. ”It’s definitely a positive thing and I’m happy that I was able to bounce back for a second game.”
Delle Donne totaled 49 points and shot 17 of 38 in a pair of double-digit home wins over the Sun in May, but she scored 13 while missing eight of 11 attempts in a 79-69 road loss when she tried to return from a five-game absence in June.
Sky center Sylvia Fowles, who had 16 points and 14 rebounds Sunday, scored 17 with nine boards in that defeat after missing the first two meetings with a hip injury.
The Sun (11-18) haven’t won at Mohegan Sun Arena since that June matchup and are on the verge of matching the franchise record set in June 2007 with their fifth straight home defeat.
Connecticut has lost 12 of 15 overall but is only two games out of the final playoff spot.
”(This) is really painful," forward Chiney Ogwumike said. "But at the same time, we play a lot of young players, and I guess in order to win as a team and to deserve the wins, you have to go through these pains."
Ogwumike finished with 23 points and 13 rebounds in Sunday’s 70-69 loss at Los Angeles after posting 24 and 12 in Friday’s 89-79 win at San Antonio.
The 2014 No. 1 draft pick has averaged 13.7 points and 9.0 rebounds in the three matchups with Chicago.