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Another comeback effort falls short as Mercury beat Aces, 99-90

It was a tough finish to a wild come-from-behind effort by the Las Vegas Aces that saw them fall short, 99-90 in overtime, against the Phoenix Mercury Wednesday, July 7 from the Michelob Ultra Arena.

There simply didn’t appear to be much left in the tank as Phoenix center Brittney Griner and the Mercury held Las Vegas to just six points in the overtime period.

Both baskets were three-pointers made by guard Chelsea Gray.

“I feel like we gave a game away today,” head coach Bill Laimbeer said. “We didn’t come out with the energy necessary. A lot of mistakes, offensively and defensively, we missed nine free throws in regulation -- which is just uncharacteristic of us.”

A three-pointer from guard Skylar Diggins-Smith pushed the lead to nine points for the Mercury with 2:42 left, forcing an Aces timeout.

Las Vegas could never recover from that point as it was handed its second home loss of the season in 11 tries.

It will be another home game for the Aces as they will take on the Minnesota Lynx Friday, July 9 from the Michelob Ultra Arena.

“[We’re] locking in,” reigning MVP A’ja Wilson said. “We had an overtime in Minnesota that we lost [so] we have to bounce back the best way we can. The 24-hour rule, yeah we can do all this but we have to come in tomorrow and focus on a Minnesota team that’s playing really well.”

It was a wild 20-8 third quarter swing that even kept the Aces in the game after battling back from being down 11 points coming out of halftime.

During that frame, Las Vegas used a 18-4 run to regain control of the game.

“We put forth a lot of energy to get back into the game, which is how we should’ve played the whole game instead of one quarter,” Laimbeer said. “Then we got the lead and it went back to ‘I’m going to shoot this one because I haven’t shot for a while.’”

Center Liz Cambage found her footing in the third quarter adding six to her first half total of eight before ending with 16 points on 7-of-16 shooting from the field.

Two-time Sixth Woman of the Year Dearica Hamby scored all of her points in 59 seconds in the third quarter during the run that changed the complexion of the game.

Hamby was held to five points in 22 minutes during Las Vegas’ 85-79 win over Phoenix back in May.

She was held scoreless the remainder of the game.

Wilson led the team with 25 points on 50% from the field to go along with 12 rebounds and six assists.

Even with the bright spots in moments on offense, Laimbeer was harsh in his postgame comments on his observation of the team on that side of the ball.

“We dodged it a long time so far from ‘Me, me, me, me’ creeping in there and it’s been coming,” he said. “Tonight was pretty much a good example of that. We didn’t have any good offensive movement in our flow.

“It was ‘I’m going to get mine because that’s how we’ve been leading up to this thing.’ And that’s not how we’re going to play basketball in the future as if we’re losers.”

From the start of the game the Aces had to deal with the presence of Griner, who scored 21 of her 33 points in the first half on 75% shooting from the floor.

“A little more effort on our part would’ve helped,” Laimbeer said. “They made some big plays -- Griner made some big shots, made a lot of perimeter shots. I give her credit and Diggins-Smith made all the plays down-the-stretch attacking and we didn’t get her under control.”

Future Hall-of-Famer Diana Taurasi missed the contest on the heels playing in three games after returning from a fractured sternum.


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