July 26, 2014

After missing significant regular-season time before being limited in the 2014 WNBA Finals, Elena Delle Donne wasted little time showing that she may be poised for a big year for the Chicago Sky.

Coming off a huge season-opening performance, Delle Donne will try to lead the Eastern Conference champions to a 2-0 start Saturday night when the Tulsa Shock seek their first win in the home opener.

Delle Donne battled through a frustrating 2014 regular season as she was limited to 16 games - nine starts - while playing just 25.5 minutes per game because of the lingering effects of Lyme disease.

The star forward returned to lead the dramatic playoff run, but back issues slowed her in a finals loss to Phoenix.

Delle Donne, however, showed she's feeling good with no back problems Friday. She finished with 31 points, eight rebounds, four blocks and three steals while going 9 for 10 from the foul line in a 95-72 home win over Indiana.

Courtney Vandersloot chipped in with 13 points to help the Sky win their fourth consecutive opener after raising their conference championship banner prior to the tip. Chicago native Cappie Pondexter, acquired from New York in the offseason, scored eight on 4-of-12 shooting in her Sky debut.

"Just from day one in training camp she brought noise," Delle Donne said of Pondexter. "It's special being able to have her as a comfort and someone who you know is going to bring that every single day."

Chicago will try to put up another solid effort defensively after limiting the Fever to 39.4 percent shooting while forcing 20 turnovers. That doesn't bode well for a Tulsa team that struggled from the field in its opener at Minnesota.

The Shock finished with a 35.4 field-goal percentage while going just 7 for 24 from 3-point range in Friday's 83-75 defeat. Plenette Pierson had 18 points in her Tulsa debut, while Odyssey Sims and Skylar Diggins totaled 32 but shot 12 for 35.

Pierson averaged 7.2 points and 3.1 rebounds last season with the Liberty before signing as a free agent in February. Diggins is hoping to build on her breakout 2014 season, when she averaged 20.1 points on 42.3 percent shooting.

Amanda Zahui B., the second player taken in April's WNBA draft, did not score on one field-goal attempt in four minutes in her debut. The center averaged 18.7 points and 12.7 rebounds as a sophomore at Minnesota before turning pro.

The Shock are looking to make significant strides after allowing a WNBA-worst 83.3 points per game en route to a league-worst 12-22 record in 2014. They haven't reached the playoffs since moving from Detroit after the 2009 season.

Tulsa took both meetings from Chicago last season, though Delle Donne did not play in a 79-69 road loss July 27. Sims led the Shock with 24 points in that contest while Diggins contributed 18.

All-Star Glory Johnson-Griner is sitting out the season for Tulsa because she is pregnant. She had previously been suspended seven games after her arrest on domestic violence charges for a fight with now-wife and Phoenix star Brittney Griner at their home in suburban Phoenix.

Chicago is also missing a key player in All-Star center Sylvia Fowles, who requested a trade in the offseason.

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