Aces improve to 5-1 while staying undefeated at home
The undefeated home start for the Las Vegas Aces continued with a win over the Minnesota Lynx most recently.
Las Vegas beat Minnesota, 93–87, Thursday, May 19, from the Michelob Ultra Arena on Bill Laimbeer Night.
Now, the team is now 3-0 at home this year.
“Obviously happy with the win,” head coach Becky Hammon said. “Wasn’t thrilled with our defense so we scored 93 points – it’s enough to have a bigger margin of wins if we’re doing stuff defensively that we want to be doing.”
The team now has a 5-1 overall record with a perfect 4-0 mark against the Western Conference.
With the win, the Aces sent the Lynx to a 1-5 start to the year.
“That’s not a 1-5 team,” Hammon said. “I can tell you that. They were 1-4 because they didn’t have their full team. That team is now 1-1 with their full power. That team will not be at the bottom of the barrel by the end of the season, I guarantee you.”
These two teams will meet again Sunday, June 19 from the Target Center in Minnesota.
For now, the four-game homestand continues for Las Vegas as Phoenix comes back to town for a Saturday matinee. Tip-off is scheduled for 12 p.m. from the Michelob Ultra Arena.
Prior to tip against Minnesota, Las Vegas came into the game leading the league in points per game at 89.8 points per game.
“It’s a lot of great basketball minds,” Hammon said. “But the crazy thing is, we’re scoring 93 points and I don’t think we’re even close to clicking offensively, so that’s scary.” The Aces came out and proceeded to tie a franchise-record with nine straight makes to start the game.
With 2:36 left in the first quarter, the team saw its first miss.
Las Vegas built an 11-point lead in the first quarter, setting the fifth double-digit lead in the first 10 minutes through the first six games.
However, the Aces lead was only a point after one quarter despite posting 26 points of their own.
“Our defense sucked,” Hammon said. “We threw it to the wrong team five times, gave up four or five offensive rebounds, like that’s nine possessions. Just down the crapper.”
Eventually, the Aces led by as many as 13 points but would have the lead cut down to a point in the final quarter.
A 59% shooting first half was slowed down to 33% in the second half.
This was largely in part to a 10-4 start to the third quarter in favor of Minnesota.
“I thought we actually had some decent looks,” Hammon said. “They just didn’t go in. I didn’t have a real problem with the shots we were taking.”
The shooting slump included Las Vegas missing 18 of its final 23 three-point attempts after starting the game 4-of-4 from deep.
“We didn’t shoot great,” Hammon said. “It’s not a great shooting night for us. But as you can see I’m super picky.”
Coming into the game, the Aces led the league with a 43% mark from deep.
For the fourth time in the first six games all starters reached double-figures led by a season-high 25 points from guard Jackie Young on 8-of-12 from the floor.
“I just need her to be her,” Hammon said. “Her efficiency is crazy – on both ends of the ball. I mean you don’t want Jackie Young guarding you. And on the other end of the ball [...] she is playing at an elite level.”
Young scored 11 of her 25 in the first quarter on a perfect 4-for-4 from the field with two made threes.
She reached 20 points in the fourth quarter, marking the second time she’s done so this season.
Her career-high is 29 points, scored against Minnesota last season from Michelob Ultra Arena.
Forward A’ja Wilson was the last Aces starter into double-figures, finishing with 17 points on 5-of-9 shooting to go along with nine rebounds and four assists.
Forward Dearcia Hamby hit a milestone in the fourth quarter, scoring her 2,000th career-point.
“She’s somebody who brings a ton of energy,” Hammon said. “[She] comes to work everyday, not surprised she hit the 2,000-mark. What’s crazy is no coach has ever called plays for her, she got 2,000 on her own practically.” Hamby finished with 14 points on 6-of-12 from the field and 12 rebounds.
Guard Chelsea Gray also poured in 17 points on 6-of-10 shooting to go along with seven assists.
Guard Kelsey Plum didn’t score her first points of the game until the 7:22-mark of the second quarter.
She struggled going 4-of-16 from the floor including 1-of-8 from deep but ended the night with 14 points.
As a team, Las Vegas recorded 22 assists on 31 made field goals.
“We had 22?” Gray asked. “I had five turnovers though, we would’ve had more. I think sometimes when we do get our turnovers, it’s because we’re being unselfish a little too much or we’re getting a little too deep [into the paint].”
The Aces also corrected five turnovers in the first quarter by committing five turnovers over the next 30 minutes.