Sky falls to Wings, fight for final playoff spot
The Chicago Sky used to control its own playoff destiny.
Heading into Wednesday night's game against the Dallas Wings at Allstate Arena, the formula for the Sky was easy. Win all three games remaining on the schedule and the playoffs are a lock.
Now, after squandering a 13-point lead and watching Dallas squirm out of Allstate with a 99-96 victory, the Sky needs help.
And it will have to come from an unwilling participant.
The Sky will be fighting for the eighth and final WNBA playoff spot with the Seattle Storm, which has two games remaining on its schedule. In a cruel twist, the Sky needs help from the Storm.
All the Storm needs to do is win its game at Washington on Friday and the Storm is in the playoffs, and the Sky is out.
But if the Storm would lose that game, the Sky might still have life.
The Sky and Storm could play for all the playoff marbles on Sunday at Allstate Arena in the season finale for both teams. That's if, and this is a biggie, the Sky in the meantime can beat the best team in the league, the Minnesota Lynx, on Friday in Minneapolis.
"It's one game and anyone can beat anyone," Sky guard Allie Quigley said of the Sky's chances of beating Minnesota to set up the winner-take-all game against Seattle on Sunday. "We're going to go in confident and not worry about Seattle and Washington. Just worry about us and then hope for the best in that game."
The Sky certainly was hoping to rebound better against Dallas, which clinched a playoff spot by defeating the Sky.
That's where the game was won for the Wings, who crashed hard on the offensive boards and rolled up 20 offensive rebounds for the game. Those rebounds led to 26 second-chance points.
Dallas forward Karima Christmas-Kelly kept a possession alive for the Wings in the final 30 seconds that made late-game heroics tough for the Sky. The Sky had just 7.1 seconds to work with, down 3 points.
Quigley had a decent look at a 3-pointer at the top of the key as time expired, but she shot a bit quickly and without being totally squared up.
"We fought very hard and this is a tough, tough outcome," said Sky coach Amber Stocks. "But 20 offensive rebounds by the opponent is significantly debilitating."
Other than the rebounding by Dallas, the Sky was impressive, hitting 59 percent of its shots, moving the ball to the tune of a season-high 33 assists on 40 made baskets and getting 15 or more points from four players.
Quigley led the way with 25 points on a 10-for-15 performance from the field. Forward Jessica Breland was also 10-for-15 and finished with 22 points and 8 rebounds. Center Stefanie Dolson put up 21 points and rolled up a career-high 9 assists and point guard Courtney Vandersloot finished with another double-double, 15 points and 12 assists.
Dallas was led by former Notre Dame star Skylar Diggins-Smith, who scored a game-high 28 points to go along with 8 assists. She was also 10-of-11 from the free throw line. Forward Glory Johnson added 25 points and 9 rebounds for the Wings.
"Whatever happens now happens, and we just have to focus on ourselves now in the next game," Dolson said.