Sky 'optimistic' about Candace Parker's ankle injury as Chicago fights to stay in playoff spot

Candace Parker could miss more time after reinjuring her ankle while the Chicago Sky fight to stay in a playoff spot as the WNBA season winds down.

Parker went down with around 6:20 left in the third quarter of a two-point game against the Dallas Wings on Tuesday night. She got caught up between Bella Alarie and Kayla Thornton on the baseline away from the ball and was audibly in pain on the broadcast. The 6-foot-4 forward was able to limp off the court on her own and head to the locker room, but she did not return to the game.

The Sky went on to lose, 80-76, despite 27 points from Allie Quigley and lost ground in the playoff standings.

Sky 'optimistic' on Parker's injury

Candace Parker
Candace Parker reinjured the left ankle that forced her to miss eight games this season. (Scott Taetsch/Getty Images)

Parker returned to the sideline for the rest of the game with ice on her left ankle and both knees. Sky head coach James Wade said afterward it was the same ankle that kept her out of the first one-third of the schedule.

"It's the same ankle that she sprained [earlier this season], but it's not as bad," Wade said. "We're just going to evaluate over the next couple of days. We'll see how it responds. It's not as much swelling as before, so it makes us feel pretty optimistic about it."

Parker missed eight games in May and June while rehabbing a minor ankle sprain she suffered in shootaround. The Sky went 1-7 in her absence, their only victory the second game of the season — and first without her — against the Atlanta Dream.

They rattled off seven straight wins upon her return on June 9. She's averaging 12.4 points, 8.6 rebounds, 3.6 assists and 1.2 blocks in 26.6 minutes per game.

Sky in a battle to stay in playoffs

That winning streak and the return of their key players — Stefanie Dolson and Allie Quigley also missed time — put the Sky (11-11) in contention for a top-four playoff spot, and the ensuing first-round bye that comes with it. But now with 10 games left in the 2021 season, they're fighting to stay in the eight-team playoffs at all and might be without a 100% healthy Parker to do it.

The Sky returned from the Olympic break by eking out an overtime win against the reigning champion Seattle Storm, who were without Olympic gold medalists Breanna Stewart and Sue Bird. Parker said her team got lucky.

The loss to the Wings (10-13) is a blow to Chicago's hold on a top spot and the Phoenix Mercury (11-10) winning both so far after the break hasn't helped. Chicago is sixth in the standings but only 1 1/2 games separate them from the eighth-place Wings. And the ninth team in the Washington Mystics is expecting Elena Delle Donne back soon, and potentially Emma Meesseman.

The Sky host the fourth-place Minnesota Lynx (13-8) on Saturday night ahead of a five-game road trip that includes two against the Storm and a home-and-home against the Aces.

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