Sky remain undefeated in Commissioner’s Cup play, beating Mystics 91-82
Sunday marked the Sky’s fifth Commissioner’s Cup game, and their undefeated record in Cup play has them atop the Eastern Conference standings.
Candace Parker was putting up shots at Wintrust Arena three hours before the game Sunday against the Washington Mystics. Her family isn’t in town, so she had all the time in the world to put extra work in.
In the Sky’s previous two games, Parker shot a combined 5-for-15, her first back-to-back games scoring in single digits since 2020. The team ranked last in the WNBA in three-point shooting percentage (30.2%) entering Sunday.
Parker got going early against the Mystics, scoring the Sky’s first field goal on a fadeaway in the paint over Mystics rookie Shakira Austin. Parker finished with 12 points, seven in the first quarter, tied her season high in rebounds with 13 and had six assists in the Sky’s 91-82 victory.
“Being dynamic and able to do other things [is important in slumps],” Parker said. “We’ve been able to find ways to win not shooting the ball well from beyond the arc.”
The Sky shot 45% from three, their second-best mark of the season. But like Parker said, they’ve been able to win games because of other aspects of their game. Specifically, their inside scoring.
The Sky are second in the league in percentage of points in the paint (49.4%). They scored 50 inside against the Mystics.
“Me and Emma [Meesseman] are very good in the paint,” Parker said. “[Kahleah Copper] gets to the lane, [Courtney Vandersloot] been turning the corner. So I think we have to utilize that and not go away from it.”
Meesseman had 13 points on 6-for-7 shooting, four rebounds, six assists and five steals. Copper added 15 points, and Vandersloot and Allie Quigley each added eight points. Meeseeman’s defense has been the most impressive aspect of her game this season.
Under Wade, the Sky have earned a reputation as an offensive-minded team, but that has changed this year. The Sky are second in the league in defensive rating behind the Atlanta Dream.
“We have people that are really focused on defense first,” Dana Evans said. “Our starting five scores the ball so well. [The second unit] comes in and picks up the slack on the defensive end.”
Sunday marked the Sky’s fifth Commissioner’s Cup game, and their perfect record in Cup play has them atop the Eastern Conference standings. The Las Vegas Aces lead the West.
The in-season tournament, in its second year, gives all 12 teams a shot at competing for a $500,000 prize pool in the championship game July 26. Wade said that he hasn’t given the tournament much thought and that his focus remains on winning another title.
His players have their attention on both.
“We talk about it a lot,” Parker said. “We have to take care of business. We want to be in it. Every team wants to be in it.”
The Mystics were without coach Mike Thibault, who is in COVID-19 protocols, and Elena Delle Donne, the team’s leading scorer, who had scheduled rest. In Delle Donne’s absence, Tianna Hawkins came up big, finishing with 21 points, well above her 5.5 average, on 8-for-13 shooting, leading all scorers.
Wade’s team is still incomplete 10 games into the season. Julie Allemand is the final piece, and Wade said she’s expected to arrive in Chicago on Tuesday after completing her overseas season in France with Lyon.