Seattle Storm star Sue Bird knows first-hand the impact her Olympic teammate Sylvia Fowles can have on a game.
Bird and the Storm look to finish their three-game road trip with a winning record on Thursday night when they visit Fowles and the Chicago Sky, who have never beaten Seattle.
Bird has been forced to provide more scoring for Seattle (19-10), which is playing the rest of the season without reigning league MVP Lauren Jackson, its leading scorer and rebounder, after she underwent ankle surgery.
The Storm have won two of three since resuming play after the month-long Olympic break, and Bird has put together her best three-game scoring stretch of the season by averaging 22.3 points.
"Sue sets the table for us every time," Seattle coach Brian Agler said. "To be honest, I don't know who is a better candidate for MVP than Sue."
Fowles is starting to show similar form for the Sky (11-17), who have won a season-high three straight since the break.
Fowles led the gold medal-winning United States team in scoring and rebounding, and has continued that momentum as WNBA play resumed. She missed the Sky's last 20 games before the break with a sprained left knee, but has posted three straight double-doubles since returning.
The 6-foot-6 center had 10 points, 12 rebounds and four blocks in an 82-81 overtime win over Detroit on Sunday. Third-year forward Candice Dupree also had a big game with 24 points, eight boards and seven assists as the Sky captured the season series with the Shock by winning two of three meetings.
"Detroit is one of the best teams in the league right now," Dupree said. "So to win this series for us is pretty good. The fact that we're 3-0 (since the break) is a huge confidence boost for us."
Fowles made her WNBA debut on Sept. 4 at Seattle and fouled out after scoring only six points in a 67-61 loss, dropping the Sky to 0-5 all-time against the Storm. Bird and Swin Cash each scored 13 for Seattle, which trailed by six at halftime.
Bird had 21 points and nine assists in an 83-69 win at expansion Atlanta on Tuesday, bouncing back from an 80-76 loss to Connecticut on Sunday. Yolanda Griffith and Camille Little, who has seen her minutes increase with Jackson out, each added 16.
This could be the final game for Griffith in her hometown. The Chicago native is in her 10th season, and is averaging a career-low 6.9 points.