Aces one win from WNBA championship, beat Sun, 85-71

Las Vegas Aces forward A’ja Wilson (22) in front of Connecticut Sun center Jonquel Jones (35) during a WNBA game on Tuesday, September 13, 2022 at Michelob Ultra Arena in Las Vegas, NV. (Photo Credit: Sports Radio Service/Shawn McCullough)

By Shawn McCullough

LAS VEGAS–The Aces took a commanding two games to zero lead in the best of five WNBA Finals with an 85-71 win over the Connecticut Sun at Michelob Ultra Arena.

“I don’t see any banners, I don’t see any balloons,” said Aces head coach Becky Hammon. “We haven’t won anything yet.”

WNBA MVP A’ja Wilson led all scoring with 26 points and pulled down 10 rebounds for the Aces.

“We aren’t’ done yet and we have things to take care of,” said Wilson on going up 2-0 in the series.

Wilson has averaged 25 points per game so far in the WNBA Finals.

“She is so explosive right now,” said Sun head coach Curt Miller. “It has been really impressive.”

Guard Courtney Williams led the Sun with 18 points, while center Jonquel Jones added 16 and pulled down 11 rebounds.

Aces Chelsea Gray scored 21 points, while Kelsey Plum added 20.

“Chelsea Gray is one of the smartest basketball players,” said Hammon. “Her IQ is ridiculous.”

Gray also dished out eight assists.

“What sets me apart is my willingness to be great,” said Gray. “I want to make others better.”

The Aces and the Sun will play game three of the best of five series on Thursday in Connecticut.

“We have another opportunity,” said Jones. “We are going home in front of our fans.”

Las Vegas Aces – http://aces.wnba.com

Game Notes:

The Aces shot 51.6% from the field.
Las Vegas went just 6 for 26 from three-point range.
The Aces got just 11 points off the bench.

Game Starters:

C – 41 Kia Stokes
F – 22 A’ja Wilson
F – 0 Jackie Young
G – 10 Kelsey Plum
G – 12 Chelsea Gray

Aces Injury Report:

None.

Aces advance to WNBA Finals with win over Storm, 97-92

SEATTLE, WA – SEPTEMBER 6: Chelsea Gray #12 of the Las Vegas Aces handles the ball during the game against the Seattle Storm on September 6, 2022 at Climate Pledge Arena in Seattle, Washington. (Photo by Ned Dishman/NBAE via Getty Images)

By Shawn McCullough

The Aces closed out the best of five semifinal series with a 97-92 win over the Storm in Seattle.

“Tough, gritty win on our part,” said head coach Becky Hammon. “We are thrilled to be going back to the Finals and I’m pumped for our girls.”

Las Vegas guard Chelsea Gray took control of the game, scoring 31 points and dishing out 10 assists.

“I’m going into my shots like I practice them,” said Gray.

Gray went 4 for 8 from three-point range.

“She [Gray] is the head of our snake,” said Aces forward A’ja Wilson. “I have never seen anyone dictate the game like that.”

Wilson contributed with 23 points and pulled down 13 rebounds.

“You have to beat the best to be the best,” said Wilson. “We are playing some really good teams.”

Storm forward Breanna Stewart scored a game high 42 points in the loss.

“Stewy was unbelievable tonight,” said Hammon.

Seattle guard Sue Bird played the final game of her 21-year career in Seattle, scoring eight points and dishing out eight assists.

“She had a fairytale career,” said Hammon. “He thumbprint on the game is forever etched in.”

The Aces will return to the WNBA Finals after losing the best of five series in 2020, three games to none, to the Seattle Storm.

The Aces will play either the Chicago Sky or the Connecticut Sun in the WNBA Finals.  That series is currently tied at two with game five on Thursday in Chicago.

Las Vegas Aces – http://aces.wnba.com

Game Notes:

The Aces shot 56.3% from the field.
Las Vegas went 10 for 22 from three-point range.
Riquna Williams scored 6 points, the only points coming from the bench.
A’ja Wilson played all 45 minutes of the game.

Game Starters:

C – 41 Kia Stokes
F – 22 A’ja Wilson
F – 0 Jackie Young
G – 10 Kelsey Plum
G – 12 Chelsea Gray

Aces Injury Report:

None.

Aces win overtime classic over Seattle, 110-98

Las Vegas Aces forward A’ja Wilson (22) shoots over Seattle Storm center Tina Charles (31) during the first half in Game 3 of a WNBA basketball semifinal playoff series Sunday, Sept. 4, 2022, in Seattle. (AP Photo/Lindsey Wasson)

By Shawn McCullough

The Aces moved to within one win of the WNBA Finals with a 110-98 overtime win over the Storm in Seattle.

“It was a hell of a game,” said Aces head coach Becky Hammon. “I don’t know if I have ever been a part of something like that.  Big shots from both sides.”

The Storm led by four points, 89-85, with 11.3 seconds remaining in the game when the madness began.

“We were up four points with not a lot of time left and that is where we lost the game,” said Storm guard Sue Bird.

Off the inbound, Riquna Williams drained a three pointer to get the Aces to within one point with 10.2 seconds remaining.

“I was just trying to let my offense come to me,” said Williams.

After two missed free throws by Seattle’s Tina Charles, Las Vegas’ A’ja Wilson gave the Aces the lead, 90-89, with 2.9 seconds left.

“We live for these moments,” said Wilson. “We worked hard to get to where we are. We were locked in.”

Wilson scored 34 points and pulled down 11 rebounds.

Soon after, Bird hit a three-pointer with 1.9 seconds remaining to give the Storm a two point lead, but Aces guard Jackie Young sent the game into overtime at the buzzer.

“That’s what playoff basketball is all about,” said Aces guard Chelsea Gray.

Gray scored 29 points and dished out 12 assists.

In overtime, the Aces dominated, outscoring the Storm 18-6 in the extra period.

“It was really frustrating,” said Storm forward Breanna Stewart. “We had the game and we gave it to them.”

With the win, the Aces now lead the best of five series, two games to one.

The Aces and the Storm will play game four in Seattle on Tuesday.

Las Vegas Aces – http://aces.wnba.com

Game Notes:

The Aces shot 52.4% from the field.
Las Vegas went 12 for 28 from three-point range.
Riquna Williams scored 14 points, the only points coming from the bench.
A’ja Wilson played all 45 minutes of the game.

Game Starters:

C – 41 Kia Stokes
F – 22 A’ja Wilson
F – 0 Jackie Young
G – 10 Kelsey Plum
G – 12 Chelsea Gray

Aces Injury Report:

None.

Aces even series with win over Storm, 78-73

Las Vegas Aces forward A’ja Wilson (22) during a WNBA game on Wednesday, August 31, 2022 at Michelob Ultra Arena in Las Vegas, NV. (Photo Credit: Sports Radio Service/Shawn McCullough)

By Shawn McCullough

LAS VEGAS–After falling at home in game one on Sunday, the Aces evened the best of five series against the Storm with a 78-73 win at Michelob Ultra Arena.

“We dug in and did what we had to do,” said Aces head coach Becky Hammon. “This pretty much was a must win for us.”

“Physically hard-fought game, but obviously, it didn’t go the way we wanted,” said Storm forward Breanna Stewart. “We had a lot of opportunities.”

Aces forward A’ja Wilson scored a career playoff high 33 points while also pulling down 13 rebounds.

“I was really locked in for my team,” said Wilson. “I needed to be more present and in the moment for my team.”

“Mashing up against A’ja, you have to respect everything that she does,” said Stewart. “It’s competitive.  You want people to go at you so you can go at them.”

Stewart led the Storm with 32 points, while center Tina Charles added 17.

“Everyone loves a good matchup [Wilson vs Stewart],” said Wilson. ”It’s good that we are starting to grow something like that.”

Chelsea Gray scored 19 points, while fellow guard Kelsey Plum added 18.

Despite the loss, the Storm were able to hold the highest scoring offense [Aces] in the WNBA to under 80 points for a second straight game.

“Super proud of our effort. Holding Vegas to under 80 is a feat,” said Storm head coach Noelle Quinn. “We just have to clean up some things offensively.”

The Aces and the Storm will play game three of the best of five series on Sunday in Seattle.

Las Vegas Aces – http://aces.wnba.com

Game Notes:

The Aces shot 42.2% from the field.
Las Vegas went just 6 for 18 from three-point range.
70 of the 78 Aces points were scored by either Wilson, Plum or Gray.

Game Starters:

C – 41 Kia Stokes
F – 22 A’ja Wilson
F – 0 Jackie Young
G – 10 Kelsey Plum
G – 12 Chelsea Gray

Aces Injury Report:

Dearica Hamby, out, right knee bone contusion

Aces drop a record 23 three-pointers, beat Mercury, 117-80

Las Vegas Aces guard Chelsea Gray (12) during a WNBA game on Saturday, August 20, 2022 at Michelob Ultra Arena in Las Vegas, NV. (Photo Credit: Sports Radio Service/Shawn McCullough)

By Shawn McCullough

The Aces had no trouble closing out the best of three game series against Phoenix with a 117-80 win over the Mercury at Michelob Ultra Arena.

“Happy to put a team away,” said Aces head coach Becky Hammon. “Tonight, the offense was special, they played the right way and the ball went in.”

The Aces hit a WNBA record 23 three-point shots, blowing away the previous record of 18 set in the regular season by the Aces.

“It all looks good when the ball goes in the hole,” said Hammon. “Nice to see the ball go through the hoop and get a swagger going into the next round.”

“It was just like a barrage,” said Mercury head coach Vanessa Nygaard. “I don’t know if I have ever seen that.”

Aces guard Chelsea Gray was on fire, scoring 27 points, while going 7 for 8 from three-point range.

“It was a great sight,” said Gray. “It felt good and it felt fun.”

Kelsey Plum dropped 22 points, while A’ja Wilson added 17.

“We were just taking what the defense gave us,” said Wilson.

The season came to an end for the Mercury, who have had to endure countless obstacles throughout the season.

“There were a lot of challenges, but I am really proud of our team,” said Nygaard. “They have great fight, they have great grit, they are tough.”

The Aces will next play in the semi-finals starting Sunday, August 28 at home against either the Seattle Storm or the Washington Mystics.

Las Vegas Aces – http://aces.wnba.com

Game Notes:

The Aces shot 64.1% from the field.
Las Vegas got eight three-pointers off the bench.
The NBA record in a single game was 29 by the Milwaukee Bucks in 2020.

Game Starters:

C – 41 Kia Stokes
F – 22 A’ja Wilson
F – 0 Jackie Young
G – 10 Kelsey Plum
G – 12 Chelsea Gray

Aces Injury Report:

Dearica Hamby, out, right knee bone contusion

Aces take game one of best of three playoff series against Phoenix, 79-63

Las Vegas Aces guard Kelsey Plum (10) during a WNBA playoff game on Wednesday, August 17, 2022 at Michelob Ultra Arena in Las Vegas, NV. (Photo Credit: Sports Radio Service/Shawn McCullough)

By Shawn McCullough

The Aces struck first in the first round of the WNBA playoffs with a 79-63 win over the Phoenix Mercury at Michelob Ultra Arena.

“That was one hard fought game,” said Aces head coach Becky Hammon. “We were able to break away there in the 4th quarter.”

The Aces led 55-51 with 6:54 left in the fourth quarter when Mercury center Megan Gustafson committed a flagrant 1 foul on Aces guard Chelsea Gray.

“I was just coming to help side and I wanted to tie up the ball,” said Gustafson.

Gray hit both free throws and proceeded to break the game open, scoring seven straight points for the Aces.

“I got a little upset,” said Gray. “I was able to knock it down in transition.”

Gray scored 17 points, including going 3 for 5 from three-point range.

“Don’t foul Chelsea Gray like that,” said Aces guard Kelsey Plum. “She’s just a dog and flipped the switch.”

Plum led the Aces with 22 points, while A’ja Wilson scored eight points and pulled down 12 rebounds.

The Mercury lost forward Shay Peddy to a leg injury, while also playing without Skylar Diggins-Smith (personal reasons) and Diana Taurasi (quadriceps).

“They [Phoenix] were really good,” said Mercury head coach Vanessa Nygaard. “The first three quarters, we were making things difficult. If more shots fell for us, it would have been a different story.”

Mercury guard Diamond DeShields led Phoenix with 18 points.

The Aces and the Mercury will play the second game of the three-game series on Saturday at Michelob Ultra Arena.

Las Vegas Aces – http://aces.wnba.com

Game Notes:

The Aces shot just 40.6% from the field.
Las Vegas center Kia Stokes led the Aces with 13 rebounds.
The Aces outscored the Mercury, 24-12, after Gustafson’s flagrant foul on Gray.

Game Starters:

C – 41 Kia Stokes
F – 22 A’ja Wilson
F – 0 Jackie Young
G – 10 Kelsey Plum
G – 12 Chelsea Gray

Aces Injury Report:

Dearica Hamby, out, right knee bone contusion

Aces move into first place tie with 89-78 win over Chicago

Las Vegas Aces guard Kelsey Plum (10) during a WNBA game on Thursday, August 11, 2022 at Michelob Ultra Arena in Las Vegas, NV. (Photo Credit: Sports Radio Service/Shawn McCullough)

By Shawn McCullough

The Aces won their third straight game with an 89-78 win over the Chicago Sky at Michelob Ultra Arena.

“Obviously, a quality win,” said head coach Becky Hammon. “We saw some resiliency today.”

“Overall, a great team performance,” said guard Kelsey Plum.  “The defense was locked in. To be as locked in as we did, that was pretty cool.”

The Aces were led by Plum with 25 points including going 4 for 5 from three-point range.

“She [Plum] was very good,” said Hammon. “Her ability to get into the paint is becoming next level.”

Guard Jackie Young scored 22 points, while A’ja Wilson and Riquna Williams each scored 12.

“I just tried to be aggressive,” said Young. “I got the ball and I was just trying to make the right plays and reads.”

The Aces now sit atop the WNBA standings with Chicago at 25-10 with one game remaining in the regular season.  With a win over the Seattle Storm on Sunday, the Aces would clinch the number one seed in the WNBA playoffs.

“No one wants to be first in the regular season,” said Hammon. “That isn’t our goal.  We have much bigger goals.”

Las Vegas Aces – http://aces.wnba.com

Game Notes:

The Aces shot 46.3% from the field.
Las Vegas was out-rebounded by the Sky, 35-29.
The Aces forced 17 Sky turnovers.

Game Starters:

C – 41 Kia Stokes
F – 22 A’ja Wilson
F – 0 Jackie Young
G – 10 Kelsey Plum
G – 12 Chelsea Gray

Aces Injury Report:

Dearica Hamby, out, right knee bone contusion

Aces win second straight, beat Dream, 97-90

Las Vega Aces guard Kelsey Plum (10) runs for a layup while Atlanta Dream forward Cheyenne Parker, left, guard Tiffany Hayes, second from left, and guard Maya Caldwell, right, run to guard her during the second half of a WNBA basketball game at Michelob Ultra Arena on Tuesday, August 9, 2022, in Las Vegas. (Ellen Schmidt/Las Vegas Review Journal)

By Shawn McCullough

Four Aces players scored 20 or more points in a 97-90 win over the Atlanta Dream at Michelob Ultra Arena.

A’ja Wilson led the Aces with 24 points and 14 rebounds, while Kelsey Plum and Chelsea Gray added 22.

Forward Jackie Young dropped 20.

Las Vegas was deadly from three-point range, going 14 for 27 from long distance.

The Aces led at halftime, 47-44, but the Dream rallied in the third quarter to take a 65-62 lead going into the fourth quarter.

With a strong fourth quarter, the Aces put the game away, outscoring Atlanta 35-25 in the final quarter.

With the win, the Aces improved to 24-10 on the season and pulled to within one game of the WNBA leading Chicago Sky.

The Aces will play their final two games of the regular season at home, starting with a huge battle on Thursday against the Sky and then the finale on Sunday against the Seattle Storm.

Las Vegas Aces – http://aces.wnba.com

Game Notes:

The Aces shot 47.8% from the field.
Las Vegas out-rebounded the Dream, 32-29.
The Aces got just nine points off the bench.

Game Starters:

C – 22 A’ja Wilson
F – 5 Dearica Hamby
F – 0 Jackie Young
G – 10 Kelsey Plum
G – 12 Chelsea Gray

Aces Injury Report:

None

Aces rally late, fall short to Wings, 82-80

Photo Credit: AP Photo/Elaine Thompson

By Shawn McCullough

The Aces erased a 14-point deficit in the 4th quarter, but fell short to the Wings, 82-80, in Dallas.

“Hard fought game,” said head coach Becky Hammon. “I thought we were digging out of a hole most of the game, but we were there at the end.”

Down two points with 3.8 seconds left, guard Chelsea Gray inbounded the ball on a set play to spring center A’ja Wilson, but Wilson missed the layup to send the game to overtime.

“It happens,” said Gray. “It’s going to hurt, but we should have never been in that position in the first place.”

“A’ja was the first option, it was a catch and shoot play,” said Hammon.

Wings center Teaira McCowan led Dallas with 21 points and 16 rebounds.

“That’s a team [Dallas] that is playing for its playoff life and they are playing well right now,” said Hammon.

Gray led the Aces with 28 points, hitting five three-point shots, while forward Jackie Young added 19.

“My teammates were getting me the ball and I was just knocking them down,” said Gray.

With the loss, the Aces fell to 22-10 on the season.

The Aces will play the last game of a five-game road trip on Sunday against the Storm in Seattle.

Las Vegas Aces – http://aces.wnba.com

Game Notes:

The Aces shot 44.9% from the field and hit 10 shots from three-point range.
Las Vegas was out-rebounded by the Wings, 37-32.
The Aces got just two points off the bench.

Game Starters:

C – 22 A’ja Wilson
F – 5 Dearica Hamby
F – 0 Jackie Young
G – 10 Kelsey Plum
G – 12 Chelsea Gray

Aces Injury Report:

None