The Minnesota Lynx played the top three teams in the WNBA standings in their past three games. Each time they found themselves wanting.
The competition figures get a little easier on Tuesday when the Lynx travel to Chicago to face the Sky (10-18) at Wintrust Arena. However, the Sky won the teams' first meeting there, 77-63 on July 7.
Minnesota (15-13), which took a three-game win streak into the All-Star break, has lost to Los Angeles, Seattle and Atlanta by 22, 10 and 20 points, respectively, since then.
The stretch gave Lynx coach Cheryl Reeve a feel for how her team fits among the WNBA's elite right now.
"Yeah, not very well, right?" Reeve told the (Minneapolis) Star Tribune.
In Sunday's 86-66 home loss to Atlanta, Minnesota was held below 70 points for the sixth time this season. The Lynx are 0-6 in those games.
Minnesota's Maya Moore and Sylvia Fowles combined for 32 points and 16 rebounds in the loss. But that wasn't enough for Reeve.
"If Maya Moore and Sylvia Fowles don't play like our team's best players ... " Reeve said. "If we don't have our best players playing at their best, it is a big-time challenge."
Moore went 4 of 13 from the field and Fowles committed three turnovers.
"Sylvia is affected by stuff around her," Reeve said. "Way too affected when something's not going well. So you're up and down with her through the course of the game."
The Lynx will make the trip to Chicago without power forward Rebekkah Brunson, who is day to day after getting hit in the nose by Atlanta's Tiffany Hayes.
With the loss to Atlanta, Minnesota clinched its worst regular-season record since going 13-21 in 2010.
The Lynx are just a game ahead of the eight-place Dallas Wings and 2 1/2 clear of Las Vegas, where they play Thursday.
The Sky, who also enter the game after a loss to the Dream -- 89-74 on Friday in Atlanta -- are clutching the slimmest of postseason hopes. Chicago trails Dallas by four games with six remaining.
While Sky point guard Courtney Vandersloot failed to reach 10 assists for the first time in five games -- she had seven -- she was the only Chicago player to score in double figures with 24 points.
Vandersloot had set a WNBA record with 50 assists during a four-game stretch on July 31.
"I have the best point guard in the league," Chicago's Cheyenne Parker said after Vandersloot delivered 14 assists as the Sky held on to beat the Dallas Wings. "So she just knows how to find the open man, and I just happened to be the open man a lot tonight. And she got me the ball."
The Lynx and Sky meet for a third and final time in a week in Minneapolis.
Languishing Lynx look to end losing streak in visit to Chicago