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2014 WNBA Playoffs: Dream's season ends with heartbreaking loss

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The Atlanta Dream saw a 20 point lead slip away in a heartbreaking 81-80 loss to the Chicago Sky.

Scott Cunningham - Getty Images

The Atlanta Dream saw a 20 point lead vanish and their season come to an end after the Chicago Sky completed a remarkable comeback behind an MVP type performance from Elena Delle Donne.

The Dream jumped out of the gate quickly building a 30-17 advantage at the end of the first quarter. They'd extend that lead to 20 in the second and looked poised to run Chicago right out of the building and the series. Like in Game 1, Chicago found a bit of their game at the end of the half and cut that 20 point lead to a 54-41 deficit at the intermission.

Both teams struggled to find offense in the third but Atlanta extended the lead to 67-51 entering the fourth quarter. The pace had already started to slow and it appeared that the Dream had started to lose some of that defensive intensity that they began the game with.

Elena Delle Donne came into the game with questions about her stamina after battling a flare up of Lyme disease throughout the regular season. She appeared to tire late in Games 1 & 2 but she saved her best for last when Chicago's season was on the line.

Delle Donne scored 17 of her game-high 34 points in the fourth. Her basket with 3:33 remaining tied the game at 74-74 for the first time since the opening quarter. Atlanta answered back with four straight points to retake the lead but Chicago wouldn't be deterred.

An off balance jumper by Shoni Schimmel put Atlanta up 80-77 with 29 seconds remaining. Delle Donne went right at McCoughtry, who was playing with five fouls, and scored to cut Atlanta's lead to one point. The Sky fouled Jasmine Thomas who missed both ensuing free throw attempts. Delle Donne once again attacked McCoughtry and used her height advantage to score again and put Chicago up 81-80 with 8.2 seconds remaining.

Atlanta's final possession was a illustration of how most of the fourth quarter had gone. The ball found its way to McCoughtry who then tried to attack multiple defenders. Somehow she got an attempt off that bounced three times on the rim before falling away giving Chicago the victory.

Erika de Souza led Atlanta with 18 points and seven rebounds. McCoughtry added 17 but was 5-18 from the floor and her shot selection down the stretch could be described as atrocious. Sancho Lyttle finished with 14 points and 13 rebounds. Tamara Young added 16 points for Chicago while Sylvia Fowles finished with 13 points and 15 rebounds.

Chicago moves on to face Indiana in the Eastern Conference Finals while Atlanta is left to ponder this loss. Its not something that will easily go away but the warning signs were there for a team that struggled down the stretch of the regular season.