With pink uniforms and pink shoes, players from the Chicago Sky were all decked out for their "Think Pink" game on Sunday night at Allstate Arena to raise awareness for breast cancer.
After rolling to a 76-65 win over the Washington Mystics, the Sky can continue to "think playoffs," too.
In June and July, the playoff picture was looking bleak for the Sky, which had lost 10 of 15 games and was stuck at the bottom of the Eastern Conference.
But with 2 straight wins and the return of star forward and leading scorer Elena Delle Donne, the vibe on this team seems different now.
"Emotionally, this is another piece of what we've all gone through this season," Sky coach Pokey Chatman said of Delle Donne's positive influence. "(Sylvia Fowles) had her struggles early. (Epiphanny Prince) had her struggles, (Jessica Breland) missed games. (Courtney Vandersloot) is out, Elena was out.
"This has just been a collective sigh of, 'Finally, we're getting some things going in the right direction.' We're tired of getting our butts beat."
At 12-16 and with six games left, the Sky is still one-half game behind New York for the fourth and final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference. But with so much parity and shifting in the East, the Sky is also only 1 game out of second place.
"I just feel like we're really clicking right now on all cylinders," said Delle Donne, who came off the bench to play 16 minutes (6 more than in her return against New York). She said she felt even better than she did on Thursday, and it showed. Against Washington, she scored a team-high 21 points while hitting 3 of 4 attempts from 3-point range.
The Sky, which never trailed and was up by as many as 16, got balanced scoring, with 14 points from Fowles, 10 from point guard Jamierra Faulkner and 8 or 9 points from three other players.
But the biggest difference came on the defensive end. Washington shot just 38 percent from the field and the Sky forced 19 turnovers.
"We had to do some gut-checking and check ourselves," said Fowles, who also grabbed a game-high 11 rebounds. "We've grown up since the last couple of games. This is something we want to do. We want to make it back to the playoffs."
Washington, which is 13-15 and tied for second place in the East with the Indiana Fever, got 17 points from forward Emma Meesseman and 12 from point guard Ivory Latta.
The Atlanta Dream (17-10) sits in first place in the Eastern Conference with a comfy 4½-game lead over the Fever and Mystics.