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updated: 9/1/2014 11:01 PM

Another big comeback keeps Sky going

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The youngest team in the WNBA, the Chicago Sky, also is by far the least experienced of the league's remaining four teams in playoff games.

But its players are quickly earning their postseason chops.

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In less than a week, the underdog Sky has mounted two huge and improbable comebacks in elimination games.

That makes Indiana Fever star and former Stevenson High School great Tamika Catchings downplay the perceived advantage of "playoff know-how" that her team, just three years removed from a WNBA championship, would have over the Sky in Wednesday's Game 3 of the Eastern Conference finals.

The Sky forced a deciding third game Monday at the Allstate Arena in inspiring fashion, overcoming an 11-point, second-half deficit and pulling out an exhausting 86-84 Game 2 victory in double overtime.

"I think (playoff experience) could be an X-factor (in Indiana's favor in Game 3). Well … I do, but I don't," said Catchings, who scored 16 points and pulled down 14 rebounds Monday. "The experience (the Sky) got in their Atlanta series was key for them. Coming back like they did and winning was huge, and that gives you experience quick.

"I think the Atlanta series helped them grow up fast."

The increasingly savvy Sky pulled off an even bigger heist in Atlanta last Tuesday. In Game 3 of the Eastern Conference semifinals, the Sky clawed its way back from a 17-point, fourth-quarter deficit to win the game and the series.

It was the first time in franchise history that the Sky won a playoff series.

The Sky also almost pulled out a comeback win Saturday in Game 1 at Indianapolis. Down 12 going into the fourth quarter, the Sky cut its deficit to 1 point before falling 77-70.

"I think we would all love to be the team that pushes out to the lead (early)," laughed a relieved Sky point guard Courtney Vandersloot, a warrior in the second half before fouling out in the second overtime. She finished with 18 points and 5 assists.

"But we know that we've been in this position before, and that's one thing that keeps us grounded and keeps us together," Vandersloot said. "And this is really the first time we've been together (due to injuries in the regular season), that it really is starting to feel like a unit out there.

"It's like, no matter what happens, we still have each other. We still have us, and we're still going to fight, and we know that we still have the talent on this roster to come back from anything."

The Sky came back from Monday's deficit on the backs of Vandersloot and center Sylvia Fowles. Both were needed even more than usual because of the back problems of leading scorer Elena Delle Donne.

Visibly hurting and down on the floor every timeout to get her sore back stretched, Delle Donne wasn't her usual self. She scored just 9 points on 4-of-11 shooting.

But Vandersloot started looking for her shot more, and she also found Fowles inside. Fowles poured in a game-high 27 points on 12-of-14 shooting and also pulled down 7 rebounds.

"You had big-time players step up and make plays," said Sky coach Pokey Chatman, who also got 16 clutch points off the bench from guard Allie Quigley. "For us, it was our bookends, our 1 (Vandersloot) and our 5 (Fowles). Slooty and Syl stayed consistent, even with a little bit of foul trouble. They stayed the course. They made big plays, and we live another day."

Sky forward Tamera Young forced the first overtime when she rebounded a miss and put in a shot with one second left in regulation.

The Sky hit key free throws down the stretch in both overtimes, and Fever guard Shavonte Zellous (team-high 20 points) missed a last-second 3-pointer in the second overtime to finally end the game.

"I want to give credit to Chicago. They fought their hearts out," said Indiana Fever coach Lin Dunn. "I thought it was great to see how they bounced back from a tough loss the other night at our place.

"I just thought there were some wide-open looks that we didn't knock down, and they knocked down their looks and got to the rim and got to the free-throw line more than we did. They just did a few more things better.

"As I've always said about Chicago, they're a very good team. All they lack is playoff experience, and they're getting that now.

"Now they're learning how to play in the playoffs."

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