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Aces can’t solve Mystics mystery, swept in season series

Las Vegas forward A'ja Wilson finishes in the lane for two against Washington. Photo Credit: Las Vegas Aces

The four-game win streak for the Las Vegas Aces is over as the team stumbled upon a familiar bump in the road.

Las Vegas was handed its first loss of a five-game road trip via a 83-73 loss to the Washington Mystics Tuesday, Aug. 3.

“I thought that was very much a playoff-type atmosphere,” head coach Becky Hammon said. “A very physical game and we’ve got to learn how to play through that.”

Washington’s win means a regular season series sweep over Las Vegas, handing the team its second loss in the last nine games.

This season, the Aces are 4-6 against teams with records of .500 or better.

“I think you just try to build championship habits all the time,” Hammon said. “We want to continue to play the right way offensively and defensively then most importantly, in the playoffs we have to understand how physical it's going to be.”

Las Vegas is 22-9 on the year and were lucky to remain a game behind the Chicago Sky for the No. 1 spot in the WNBA after the latter loss later in the day.

The road trip continues as the Aces head to Dallas Thursday, Aug. 4 for a matchup against the Wings, who handed the Sky that aforementioned loss.

“We go and try to regroup,” Hammon said. “We still got a couple of games on this road trip.”

A game that had seven ties and 13 lead changes saw Las Vegas fall apart in the fourth quarter.

Washington went on a 13-0 run about midway through the fourth quarter after Las Vegas had tied the game at 68 apiece.

Las Vegas forward A'ja Wilson works against Washington rookie Shakira Austin Tuesday night. Photo Credit: Las Vegas Aces

Two Aces turnovers within 1:02 of each other really took the wind out of the sails for the road team.

Forward A’ja Wilson was whistled for a travel with 5:52 left in the fourth quarter. About a minute later, forward Dearica Hamby was called for an offensive foul with the team down three.

“I personally did a terrible job with shot selection,” guard Kelsey Plum said. “I just think we didn’t get A’ja the ball, specifically me, when we needed to. That was kind of the game to me.”

Down 11 points, guard Jackie Young suffered the same fate as teammate Hamby, picking up an offensive foul in the lane.

Las Vegas held former league MVP Elena Delle Donne in check to the tune of five points on 1-of-7 shooting. With that, the team was burned by several other Washington players including guard Natasha Cloud.

Cloud, the league’s assists leader, helped lead the Mystics to 25 assists on 31 made field goals.

“We did a nice job on Delle Donne,” Hammon said. “But I thought their role players did a nice job of punishing and just reading the defense.”

Fellow MVP Wilson finished with another double-double, recording 22 points and 12 rebounds as well as three blocks. It’s her 15th double-double of the season, good for tops in the league.

Prior to the start of the game, Wilson was named the Western Conference Player of the Month. She has now claimed the honor two times this season, in May and July.

Aces guard Chelsea Gray pushes past the Mystics defense during the team's loss Tuesday night. Photo Credit: Las Vegas Aces

Wilson had it going early, scoring nine points on a perfect 4-for-4 from the field including a made three to go along with four rebounds.

Guard Chelsea Gray joined Wilson as a 20-point scorer, posting 20 points on 8-of-13 from the field.

“We just have to play together as a unit offensively,” Hammon said. “The ball just stuck tonight. I didn’t like the ball sticking.”

The guard tandem of Plum and Young combined to score 26 points on 8-of-26 shooting.

“We were playing right into their hands,” Gray said. “So we’ve got to be better focused and better mentally to be able to combat that, when [teams] are just throwing bodies at us.”

In addition, the Aces were held without a fast break point.

“We had zero fast break points,” Hammon said. “They beat us in second chance points, they beat us in the paint. All the hustle categories – they beat us on the boards. We lost tonight and you can’t do that on the road against a quality team.”

Las Vegas guard Jackie Young looks to re-direct against Washington's Ariel Atkins Tuesday night. Photo Credit: Las Vegas Aces


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