Sun face a tough test against Sky

Mohegan — It is not the sight fans of the Connecticut Sun would prefer tonight, this appearance of the Chicago Sky, whose starting lineup consists of five players who were once lottery picks.

And while there's an entertainment factor to be considered — watching Elena Delle Donne and Sylvia Fowles is fun — the practical side is more sobering: the Sun need to start winning games quickly.

It won't be easy tonight at Mohegan Sun Arena (7 p.m., CPTV Sports). The Sky (9-4) have won five of their last six and are among the league's most prolific teams.

At least the Sun have this much, however: It was a somewhat happier picture at Thursday's workout. The injured trio of Kara Lawson, Renee Montgomery and Tan White were at least limited participants.

Lawson, who has missed four straight games with a bone bruise in her knee, said whether she plays tonight "is Anne's decision." Lawson feels better and said she should be able to play some minutes.

"It's day to day (with Lawson) as far as I know," Donovan said. "My plan is to see how it goes (today)."

Donovan said later that if Lawson says she can play, she'll play.

Donovan said Montgomery (ankle, missed the last nine games) won't play tonight, but could play Sunday at home against San Antonio. White (finger) probably won't play until next week.

Neither has been involved in a full contact practice as yet.

"Our target for Renee has been the 14th," Donovan said. "With Tan, the healing didn't go as we had hoped. We'll see how Saturday (Saturday's workout) goes for both of them. If they practice and get some reps in on offense and defense, it's likely we'd let Sydney (Carter) go and move with one of them (likely Montgomery) for Sunday."

Carter, signed June 10 as an "emergency replacement player," has been among the season's best stories, running the offense capably at times. The Sun cannot automatically keep Carter on the roster, however, per WNBA rules.

An emergency replacement player must be placed on waivers, where anyone in the league could claim her for the next 48 hours. After that, the Sun would still have to wait 10 days before they could re-sign her, per league rules.

"When Tan or Renee are back, she's waived," Donovan said. "Basically, it's 12 days before we could pick her up and we'd have to have a roster spot for her.

"I can't imagine anybody hasn't seen she's a good young guard that's going to do good things in the league," Donovan said. "(But) I don't know how many teams need a point guard at this point in the season. Or that many teams have that (roster) spot."

And so with players mending, the Sun can look at their 3-8 record and hope for better days soon, especially given they're not all that far behind New York (6-7), Washington (6-7) and Indiana (4-8).

"It could be a lot worse," Donovan said. "Indiana with its injuries has been as decimated as we are. New York and Washington ... I don't think we feel like anybody's out of reach. Look at Atlanta, a one-point game for us. In the Eastern Conference, I think we have very good opportunities, but we can't let too much separation develop."

m.dimauro@theday.com

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