Recapping the Weekend: Week 11

The Indiana Fever extended its win streak to four straight this weekend and maintain a hold on first place in the East
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Fighting for Contention
The Chicago Sky and New York Liberty tipped off the weekend's worth of action Friday night at Allstate Arena. Both teams entered the game tied for fifth place in the East, with Chicago looking to extend its win streak to four straight and New York riding the success of an overtime victory of the Sun earlier in the week. Through two quarters both teams traded baskets, but by the time the third quarter hit, New York strung together a 17-5 run to take a 61-57 lead into the fourth. That's all the Liberty would need, sealing the deal by the final score of 79-71 thanks to Taj McWilliams-Franklin's 18 points and Cappie Pondexter's 16. For Chicago, Sylvia Fowles led the team with 12 points and 16 rebounds for her third straight double-double. As the season continues to wind down, each of these teams knows wins are at a premium if they wish to break into the postseason. Friday's matchup marks the final time this season the two teams will meet, with New York sweeping the series 4-0.

Sparks Looking for Late-Season Fire
Saturday's action picked up at Mohegan Sun Arena in Connecticut as the Sparks came to town to challenge the Sun. Connecticut's Tina Charles had a not-so Tina Charles-esque game Tuesday night in a loss to the Liberty (14 points, 6 rebounds)and would look to turn things around against Los Angeles. Unfortunately for the Sun, that would not be the case. The Sparks held Charles to only nine points and nine rebounds, marking only the first time in her young career that she's gone two games without registering a double-double. The Sparks pulled out the win thanks to 20 points from DeLisha Milton-Jones and 17 points, seven boards and seven assists from Ticha Penicheiro. It also didn’t hurt that L.A. nailed 15 three-pointers on 29 attempts. For the Sparks, there's no better time than now to make a late-season push for the playoffs. Eight of the team's next 11 games are against Western Conference teams, so the opportunity to gain ground is promising.

Catch the Fever
Indiana extended its win streak to four straight thanks to a 19-point night from Briann January in a 78-73 win over the Mystics. Crystal Langhorne recorded 15 points and 13 rebounds in the loss, her second-straight double-double, and received plenty of help from Katie Smith (17), Monique Currie (14) and Lindsey Harding (10). In the end though, Washington came up short against the East’s best team. The Fever is 4-1 since returning from the break and currently has a hold on first place in the conference.

Mercury Rising
Just two days after setting a WNBA record for the most points scored in a single game (123), the Mercury turns around and sets a new record Saturday night in a 127-124 double-overtime win over the Lynx. Candice Dupree registered a 32-16 double-double for the Mercury and the team received some additional help from Diana Taurasi (31) and DeWanna Bonner (20) to pull out the win. For Minnesota, Seimone Augustus scored a season-high 36 points and Rebekkah Brunson picked up a 19-17 double-double in the loss. Minnesota has been faced with injuries all season long but has found ways to soldier on. Although they remain in playoff contention right now, the ability to hang on long enough for the postseason remains a point of concern. However, consider this: Over the last three losses, Minnesota has lost by a combined seven points; two separate two-point losses and the recent three-point loss in double-overtime against the Mercury. Bad luck? Perhaps. But hard to rule them out just yet.

Fowles Steering Sky
The Chicago Sky pulled out a much-needed 75-72 win Saturday against the San Antonio Silver Stars thanks to Sylvia Fowles’ 23 points and 12 rebounds, her fourth-straight double-double. San Antonio’s Roneeka Hodges nearly sent the game to overtime in the dying seconds but missed on game-tying three just as time expired. The win keeps Chicago in playoff contention, even if the Sky remains tied for fifth place in the close-knit Eastern Conference.

The Weekend in Photos

Friday's Action
Saturday's Action
Sunday's Action
Atlanta Back on Track?
Heading into Sunday, the Dream was trying to snap a losing streak that put them on the wrong side of four straight and dropped them out of first place in the East since returning from the break. With the Liberty coming to town for an early-afternoon tip, it was the perfect setting for Atlanta to win a big game against an Eastern Conference rival. To the team’s delight, they did just that. Angel McCoughtry scored 28 points on 9-of-20 shooting and Iziane Castro Marques dropped an additional 21 for the Dream to help lead Atlanta to an 82-75 win over New York. Cappie Pondexter scored a team-high 26 points for the Liberty in the loss. The win may spark a turnaround for the Dream, who has struggled a bit since returning from Stars at the Sun weekend. For New York, the loss ties them once against with Chicago for fifth place in the East.

Turn it up to 11
Seattle and Tulsa met for the final game of the weekend. The league-best Storm went into the game with the opportunity to extend its win streak to an impressive 11 straight, while Tulsa hoped to gain whatever ground it could to at least maintain some hope for a playoff berth. Although the Storm dropped only 75 points, it was enough to outdo the Shock’s total of 59. Lauren Jackson picked up 16 points and nine rebounds in the win, while Shanna Crossley led the Shock with 19. Seattle's win over Tulsa improves them to 20-2, matching the 1998 Houston Comets for the WNBA record for best start after 22 games.

Expect Great in 2010.