The Atlanta Dream hope their leading scorer is healthy enough to help them build on their latest victory.
After being held to a franchise-low 45 field goals and 34.7 percent shooting in a 78-62 home loss to Indiana on Sunday, Atlanta (2-2) bounced back Thursday to win 81-65 over a Phoenix team minus injured star Diana Taurasi.
The Dream prevailed despite McCoughtry being limited to 10 points in 18 minutes because of a knee injury.
“I thought we bounced back really well,” coach Marynell Meadors said. “They took the challenge.”
Among the WNBA leaders with 20.0 points per game, McCoughtry banged her knee with 8:07 remaining in the first half. With her knee wrapped, the 2011 all-WNBA first-team selection played sparingly in the second half.
“I didn’t play her,” Meadors said. “We were up. We’ve got a big, physical game coming up on Saturday, so if we don’t need them, I’m going to rest them.”
McCoughtry has averaged 23.0 points in Atlanta’s last two games against Chicago, which lost three of four to the Dream in 2011.
If McCoughtry is unable to play or has her minutes limited, Meadors may again rely on her bench. Catherine Kraayeveld scored a team-high 12 points to help Atlanta’s reserves outscore the Mercury’s 37-10.
“We just needed to come out with the same intensity as the first team,” said reserve guard Tiffany Hayes, who added eight points, four rebounds and three assists in 20 minutes.
Regardless of who is on the floor for the two-time reigning Eastern Conference champion Dream, they must find a way to contain Chicago star Sylvia Fowles.
Averaging 21.5 points and 12.5 rebounds, Fowles made a tiebreaking layup in the final seconds to give Chicago a 65-63 home win over Washington on Friday. Fowles finished with 19 points and a season-high 16 boards to help the Sky improve to 3-1 for the second straight season and third time in four years.
Thanks to Fowles, Chicago has a chance to start 4-1 for the first time in the seven-year history of a franchise that has never reached the playoffs.
“Sylvia is a special player, because she can be disruptive on both ends of the floor,” coach and general manager Pokey Chatman told the Sky’s official website. “She’s had a great start, and I’d like to see her continue to be this dominant throughout the season.”
The Eastern Conference player of the month for May, Fowles has averaged 20.0 points and 11.5 rebounds in the last two meetings with Atlanta.
Teammate Epiphanny Prince scored 13 of her career-high 31 points in the final 1:44 to help the Sky rally from a late eight-point deficit Friday. The second-year guard also is averaging 21.5 points this season.