Still on the road, the Las Vegas Aces returned to form in another blowout victory over the Minnesota Lynx, putting the finishing touches on a regular season sweep.
Las Vegas pounced on Minnesota, 98-81, Saturday, July 22 from the Target Center in the fourth and final meeting of the season between the two clubs.
With the most recent win, the Aces have now won five straight games dating back to before the all-star break. Overall, the team is now 21-2 on the year with 17 more games to play.
Las Vegas’ current four-game road trip will conclude Tuesday, July 25 against Chicago. Tipoff is scheduled for 4 p.m.
A season’s best performance from the Aces’ two-time league MVP A’ja Wilson came at just the right time as Wilson recorded a season-high 35 points on 14-of-17 from the field to go along with 14 rebounds. The outing netted Wilson her eighth 30-point game of the season while pushing her two-game rebounding total to 29.
“I feel like I’ve been playing in this position my whole career,” she said. “My adjustment every single game is ‘Who’s guarding me’ and things like that.”
Along with teammate Jackie Young, Wilson dominated the first half to the tune of 32 of the team’s 48 points before halftime. This was rivaled by 30 total points for Minnesota the other way.
Young finished with 19 points with five assists and five rebounds.
Late in the second quarter, Las Vegas went on a 19-4 run to push the lead back to double-digits and ultimately 18 points before the halftime buzzer. To compound matters, the Aces held the Lynx to just 12 points in the second quarter.
“We started being more physical and stopped following them around,” Hammon said. “I thought we tightened up not switching as much [and] getting under, I think that helps us keep the ball in front. At the end of the day, when [the Aces] decide they want to clamp down defensively, they’re hard to score against.”
Before the end of regulation, the team would go up by as many as 26 points. Las Vegas had to rebuild its double-digit lead that was originally erected in the first quarter behind an 11-0 start to the game by the defending champions.
“We played pretty efficiently on the offensive end,” Hammon said. “Throughout the course of that run, I thought [the opponent] missed some open ones but we secured the ball and went down to the other end.”
Guard Kelsey Plum added 16 points of her own, highlighted by 13 points in the third quarter. She anchored an 8-0 run for the Aces to close the quarter and set up a fourth quarter of cruising.
Fellow guard Chelsea Gray had another busy day passing the ball, accounting for a game-high 11 assists to go along with 11 points for her fifth double-double this season.
“The way she sees the game is a calming effect,” Hammon said. “There’s times when she’s dribbling up the court and you know exactly what she sees. She’s already got a plan in her head.”
Gray was the conductor for a Las Vegas offense that tallied 25 assists on 36 made field goals.
Reserve forward Alysha Clark added 11 points off-the-bench, reaching double-figure scoring for the sixth time this season. Three of those six games have come in the month of July.
In total, the Aces shot better than 52% from the field less than 48 hours removed from a relatively off shooting night by the team’s standards.
“Anytime you come back from a break, there’s going to be a little bit of rust,” Clark said. “That’s just part of it so it’s nice that we’re able to get back into our groove a little quicker. That’s a sign of not only a good team but a veteran team.”