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Recap: The Chicago Sky excel as a team, defeat the Phoenix Mercury, 104-85

The Chicago Sky got contributions from up and down the roster, and it all paid off in a crucial victory over the Phoenix Mercury.

Phoenix Mercury v Chicago Sky
Members of the Chicago Sky are all smiles as they celebrate a Sunday afternoon win over the Phoenix Mercury.
Photo by Gary Dineen/NBAE via Getty Images

The Chicago Sky (10-15) played as a team and won as a team against the Phoenix Mercury (6-18). The 104-85 victory returned the team to the win column after two-straight home losses to the Las Vegas Aces and Seattle Storm.

From the opening tip to the final buzzer, the Sky played some of the best basketball they have played all season. They controlled the pace of the game, held onto the lead and, at both ends of the floor, were able to overpower a Mercury team that had Diana Tarausi, Brianna Turner, Megan Gustafson and Sophie Cunningham, but was missing Brittney Griner, who took this game off to prioritize her mental health. Phoenix also remained without Skylar Diggins-Smith, who is away from the team after giving birth to her second child.

The five keys to the Sky’s victory

The Sky claimed the victory due contributions from multiple players in all aspects of the game. Lately, team captain Kahleah Copper has taken on much of the scoring load, but this time around she had plenty of help. Here are five critical reasons why Chicago won:

1.) Effective shooting from the field and beyond the arc

The Sky shot 57.2 percent from the field compared to the Phoenix’s 47.6 percent. The Sky also had the advantage behind the arc. Kahleah Copper, Alanna Smith and Courtney Williams each hit one 3-pointer. Marina Mabrey and Robyn Parks both converted four 3-pointers, with Parks going 4-for-5.

2.) Transition offense

Chicago was able to generate 32 points off 16 Phoenix turnovers. In return, they only gave up five points off six turnovers. Chicago’s defensive prowess was on full display, as they pressured the ball and disrupted the flow of a weakened Phoenix offense. The Sky also outscored the Mercury 10 to six on fastbreak points.

3.) Bench players

Though the bench has been thin for a significant portion of the season due to the absences of Rebekah Gardner and Isabelle Harrison, some of Chicago’s reserves came alive in this game. While the battle between the benches was competitive and ended in a 23-point tie, the Sky had a few benchwarmers who especially impressed.

As noted above, rookie Robyn Parks drilled four 3-pointers and shot 80 percent from beyond the arc. She also added three assists and three rebounds. Ruthy Hebard also chipped in six points, two rebounds, two assists and two blocks.

Largely underutilized for much of the season, Chicago’s reserves have managed to find themselves at the right place at the right time, which harkens back to what was expected from the bench all along.

“Everybody has their role on our team,” said interim head coach Emre Vatansever. “I think it’s already established from the beginning of the season. We just try to find more contributions from off the bench. So we will just keep working. We are not doing anything different. We are just trying to show them some path that they can follow and I’m happy that they have followed that path.”

4.) Five players scoring in double figures

Copper continued to assert her dominance, netting a game-high 24 points. Behind her 3-point magic, Mabrey almost matched Copper with 23 points. Courtney Williams’ sharp shooting from the field led her to 19 points. Parks’ enormous contributions from the 3-point line gave her a season-high 14 points. Alanna Smith shot the ball in spurts and came away with 10 points.

5.) Playmakers

C. Williams, and Mabrey took command of the game with their ability to get everyone involved. C. Williams dished out a game high nine assists, while Mabrey dropped six dimes.

Overall, the win provided a much needed boost for Chicago. As the calendar turns to August, every game is a must-win if the Sky are to contend for a spot in the postseason. It is going to take a true team effort — just as they showed in Sunday’s win — to get them there.

The Sky (10-15) will hit the road to play the Dallas Wings (14-11) on Friday August 4 at 7 p.m. CST.