ROSEMONT, Ill. – Elena Delle Donne is happy to be playing again and the Chicago Sky are glad to have her back.
Delle Donne, playing for the first time since June 25 while dealing with a recurrence of Lyme disease, scored 10 points in the Sky's 87-74 victory over the New York Liberty on Thursday night.
"It's just awesome to be back with the team competing," said Delle Donne, who shot 3 for 8 from the field in about 10 1/2 minutes. "I feel really good and I'm happy we were able to keep the minutes down because it's something I'm going to have to build on."
Sylvia Fowles had 16 points and 14 rebounds, reserve guard Allie Quigley also scored 16 and Jameirra Faulkner added 14 to help Chicago (11-16) snap a two-game skid and move a half-game behind New York for the fourth and final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference.
"It was definitely emotional having her back," Fowles said. "So you go out there with an extra edge."
Tamera Young had 12 and Epiphanny Prince 11 for the Sky.
Tina Charles scored 15 points, Cappie Pondexter had 14, and Avery Warley-Talbert and Plenette Pierson had 10 apiece for the Liberty (11-15), who have lost two of their last three. New York also lost all four meetings with Chicago this season.
"They played great, they executed their shots very well," Pondexter said. "They won. We can't take anything from them and the good thing is we don't play them anymore."
Leading 65-61 entering the fourth quarter, Chicago scored seven consecutive points to take a double-digit lead with 7:41 left.
New York got no closer than nine again.
Delle Donne tied the score at 43 with her first field goal of the game, with 7:03 to go in the third quarter. She added a 3 pointer 43 seconds later as Chicago went on to give the Sky the four point lead heading to the final period.
Delle Donne, the 2013 WNBA rookie of the year, missed 17 of the Sky's previous 18 games. She missed five games starting on June 10, played 17 minutes and scored 13 points on July 25 against Connecticut and then missed the next 12 games.
The Sky lost 12 of 17 in her absence and eight of their last 10 coming in.
"Every game from here on out is a must win," Fowles said. "We have to stay on our toes, continue to be aggressive and do the things we haven't done all season to make it into the playoffs."