“Big Syl” went down with a sprained ankle just before halftime Saturday and sat on the bench with an air cast on her foot for the entire second half.
It could have been colossal for the Chicago Sky. Sylvia Fowles, the team’s 6-foot-5 center, was in beast mode at Allstate Arena, pounding the Los Angeles Sparks for 17 points before her right ankle buckled with about two minutes left before halftime.
But even without Fowles, who had X-rays in the locker room and could miss Tuesday’s game against Seattle, the Sky kept the pedal pressed firmly to the floor.
Others picked up the slack and the Sky wound up cruising to a 94-82 victory over the Sparks, who got a game-high 23 points from former Naperville Central superstar Candace Parker.
The Sky improves to 7-3 and 5-0 at home, which matches the best start at home in franchise history (5-0 in 2009).
The fifth-largest Sky crowd ever (6,885) was in attendance.
“I think they put on a show tonight and I’m proud of the way they handled themselves,” Fowles said of her teammates after the game. “Even though L.A. made some runs, we didn’t shake. We just made runs back. That’s always a positive.”
The Sky was up by 6 at halftime and never relinquished the lead. But the Sparks (5-4) did cut their deficit to 70-68 with 8:10 remaining. Los Angeles scored on back-to-back moves in the post, one by Parker, and was clearly trying to take advantage of the absence of Fowles in the middle.
“I did miss some chippies I shouldn’t have missed, though,” said the 6-foot-4 Parker, who was 9 of 21 from the field. “We need to go back to the drawing board to figure out what we can do better. I thought the energy was there, the effort was there. We just have to make plays.”
Guard Epiphanny Prince and rookie forward Elena Delle Donne made plenty of plays down the stretch for the Sky, finishing with a team-high 21 points and 20 points, respectively. They combined for 11 fourth-quarter points.
“We all had to have that attack mindset (with Fowles out),” Delle Donne said. “Shots weren’t always falling, but we were getting good looks and we knew they would fall at crucial points of the game.”
All five Sky starters scored in double figures as point guard Courtney Vandersloot scored 12 points and forward Swin Cash added 10.
“I thought our starters toted the mail today,” Sky coach Pokey Chatman said. “Sylvia established herself early and we executed down the stretch. When you put up 90-plus points against any team that’s good, especially when you have Sylvia out there with a sprained ankle.”
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