No Olympic-break rust as Sky get win over Dream
Clearly, Chicago Sky forward Elena Delle Donne isn't suffering from Olympic burnout.
Less than a week after helping the U.S. women's basketball team to a gold medal in Rio, Delle Donne was golden in the Chicago Sky's first game back after a 34-day break for the Olympics.
Delle Donne torched the Atlanta Dream for a game-high 34 points as the Sky wrestled away a 90-82 victory at Allstate Arena. She was 14-of-14 at the free throw line.
With 10 games left and the standings in the Eastern Conference bunched in the middle, the Sky needed a win to move to 12-13 and stay on track for a possible playoff berth.
"We talk about toughness," Sky coach Pokey Chatman said. "It's gut-check time. We talked about how it was going to be our ability to do the little things."
The Sky had multiple leads in the second half, lost them and then finally took control over the final minutes to get the kind of gritty win that might not have materialized earlier in the season.
"We were down by seven and then up by eight," Chatman said. "It was nice to see us weather the storm."
Delle Donne made sure of it. And so did reserve forward Cheyenne Parker, who was 1 point off her career high with 14 points. She was a spark in the third quarter and battled on the offensive boards to either keep possessions alive or score on putbacks.
Parker had 4 offensive rebounds, part of a 27-13 advantage the Sky had in second-chance points.
"I just always crash the boards," Parker said. "That gives me the opportunity to get offensive rebounds. That gets the game going for everyone to get those second opportunities."
Guards Cappie Pondexter (17 points) and Courtney Vandersloot (14 points) also scored in double-figures for the Sky, which had won three of four games before the Olympic break.
Angel McCoughtry, who was also on the Olympic team with Delle Donne, led Atlanta with 22 points, including a 10-of-11 clip at the free throw line.
"These last 10 games we need to look at one game at a time," Pondexter said. "Our focus needs to be really small. We can't worry about what other teams are doing right now. It's about us."