Sky-Mystics Preview

The Associated Press

The Chicago Sky have climbed to the top of the Eastern Conference with their longest winning streak of the season.

Extending it seems likely with a matchup against a Washington team they have dominated in recent years.

Chicago aims for an 11th win in 12 meetings with the Mystics as it hits the road Wednesday for its final game before the All-Star break.

Outscoring opponents by an average of 15.4 points during a five-game win streak, coupled with Atlanta's four-game skid, has given the Sky (12-4) a 1 1/2-game lead in the East. They took an 80-69 home victory over New York on Saturday with Sylvia Fowles recording 15 points and 13 rebounds.

Fowles, the league's leading rebounder at 11.9 per game, missed a 75-55 win at New York two days earlier due to a sprained right ankle.

"Honestly, we're making progress. We're making progress," Fowles said after recording her seventh double-double. "I've been told that it's something that's going to bother me for a while because it's a bone bruise but (I) pretty much have to go with the flow and go from there."

Saturday's win came despite a season-low seven points from rookie star Elena Delle Donne, who was 2 of 8 from the field. The All-Star Game's leading vote-getter was subject to frequent double teams and ball-denial defense.

"Wins are all that matters," said Delle Donne, one of the league's leaders in scoring and blocks at 18.6 and 1.9, respectively. "I said it earlier, if I have to play decoy and they want to deny like that, then I will play decoy the rest of the season and we'll get wins. I'm very happy with getting that win and showing some toughness in the second half and gritting it out on defense."

Delle Donne scored 18 in an 89-85 home win over the Mystics (8-9) on July 10, while Fowles finished with a season-high 26 points on 12-of-17 shooting to go with 18 rebounds, including a career-high 10 on the offensive end.

Crystal Langhorne led Washington with 18 points but was held scoreless on five shots in Sunday's 65-52 home loss to Indiana, the Mystics' second defeat to the Fever in three days. Langhorne's 21 minutes matched a season low, something coach Mike Thibault said she "earned." She entered the game averaging 13.6 points.

The Mystics were 2 for 13 while being outscored 22-7 in the second quarter and shot 30.9 percent for the game en route to their lowest scoring output of the season.

"I was just embarrassed by the way we played," Thibault said. "We missed 38 shots tonight and got four offensive rebounds. That's terrible. You should never play that way."

Thibault's group will likely be pressed again on the glass, as Chicago's plus-5.9 rebounding margin is one of the WNBA's best.

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