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Aces on first losing streak of season following 77-67 loss to Lynx

It was a wire-to-wire win for the Minnesota Lynx as the Las Vegas Aces came out flat and just couldn’t stop the avalanche.


The Aces fell behind by as many as 19 points before losing 77-67 to the Lynx Friday, July 9 from the Michelob Ultra Arena.


“That’s probably as bad a game we’ve played all year long,” head coach Bill Laimbeer said. “It was clear collectively as a group, we were not there. We did not play hard enough to win a basketball game in this league, let alone against Minnesota.”


The loss sends the team to its first losing streak of the season as Vegas drops to 14-6 on the year and 8-3 at home.


In addition, the Lynx are up 2-0 in the season series with one more game to play in Las Vegas Wednesday, September 8.


The game also marked the last home game for the franchise before the Olympic break. The team will return home to host the Washington Mystic Sunday, August 15.


There is one more game for the team prior to the hiatus, however, when the Aces travel to Dallas to take on the Wings Sunday, July 11.


“I think the first thing is, this league is so good,” guard Kelsey Plum said. “We have to be ready from the jump. We’re going to get everyone’s best game and you just can’t take your foot off the gas.”


For the first time in 19 games this season, Laimbeer was forced to go with a different starting lineup as center Liz Cambage missed the game due to quarantining with the Australian National Team.


“She was under so much pressure from her national team,” Laimbeer said. “She was hoping to play in this game but the pressure became so great. They said everybody and all the coaches were going to not be playing the last game -- I think they’re coach sold them out, I think, from what I understand.”

Laimbeer added that he agreed with Cambage’s decision citing “I wouldn’t sell out my national team for a club team.”


Minnesota jumped on Las Vegas and put the team down big early, racing out to an 8-2 lead to open the game.


By the first stoppage in play about five minutes in, the Lynx had built a 15-6 lead.


The Aces never led in this game.


“The first quarter was the game,” Laimbeer said. “We didn’t come out and play.”


The lead grew to as large as 15 in the first quarter and ballooned to 19 before halftime.


Already trailing by 15 after the first 10 minutes, Las Vegas committed four turnovers in the first 3:15 of the second quarter.


“I think we’re a little mentally tired as a basketball team,” Laimbeer said. “We’ve been grinding it out in this first half of the season, trying to understand who we are.”


The Aces committed 15 turnovers in the game to the Lynx’s 10.


Two nights after dominating the third quarter in a comeback effort against Phoenix on Wednesday, Las Vegas had a cold start to the third in this one.


The Aces missed eight of their first nine shots coming out of halftime.


“I think we’ve been in a tough stretch where we’re playing every other day,” Plum said. “We’ve had three overtime games, we’ve been traveling, I think there’s a part of it that’s mental fatigue but there’s a part of it that’s physical fatigue right?”


Three-point shooting was also a key factor in this game as Minnesota made 40% of their attempts (9-of-22) while holding Las Vegas to 20% (3-of-15).


The Lynx became the second team in league history to win a game without attempting a single free throw.


Reigning MVP A’ja Wilson was held to 13 points on 4-of-15 shooting from the field and six rebounds.


“The effort level we put forth tonight was not acceptable,” Laimbeer said. “They are a solid defensive team, they overplay, they take you out of stuff which means you have to work extra hard to get open in the right spots.


“You have to get the ball into the post, you have to attack harder, all of the above but we just didn’t have the intensity level to get the win.”


Plum led the team in scoring with 18 points off-the-bench to go along with four rebounds, three assists and two steals.


Guard Riquna Williams scored nine points in the first quarter after being held to just two against Phoenix but was held scoreless the rest of the game.


“Riquna Williams kept us in the game a little bit with her shooting,” Laimbeer said. “But the rest wasn’t there, from the defense -- 33 points in the first quarter, we can’t do that.”


Former Aces guard Kayla McBride was honored before the game with a tribute video, before finishing with 10 points, three rebounds and three assists in her first game in Las Vegas since joining Minnesota in the off-season.

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