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Las Vegas suffers fourth straight home loss, this time to Atlanta

It was a spoiled homecoming for Las Vegas as it made its return to The House for the first time in nearly two weeks.

The Aces were defeated by the Atlanta Dream, 92-76, Tuesday, July 19 from the Michelob Ultra Arena.

Coming into the game, Las Vegas led the league in scoring, averaging more than 91 points per game.

“Disappointing way to come out and start a little homestand,” head coach Becky Hammon said. “Basically, it was digging out of a hole since the first quarter.”

This season, the Aces are 6-6 against Eastern Conference teams. Overall, the team is 18-8 and still sit atop the Western Conference, now only a half game ahead of the Seattle Storm.

As mentioned, the game against Atlanta opened a three-game homestand for Las Vegas. It will continue with a matchup against the Indiana Fever next.

That game will be played Thursday, July 21 from the Michelob Ultra Arena. Tip-off is scheduled for 7 p.m. “Win or lose, I always just have a 24-hour rule,” forward A’ja Wilson said. “I don’t let it carry over. At the end of the day, I’m going to go to sleep and wake up and it’s a new day. We’ve got to regroup and get back to us.”

The Aces are now 8-5 at home and 0-4 in its last four contests.

“If I knew, I would click the button,” Hammon said. “I think we play more selfishly at home, offensively and defensively. I don’t know if it's because we’re in front of our people at home, I don’t know.

“But I know this isn’t the first time, we’ve given up 35 in the first quarter which is just completely unacceptable. If you were a plumber, you’d be fired.”

It was an ugly start for Las Vegas against Atlanta as the team stumbled out of the gates, missing six of their first seven shot attempts.

The team would make three of its first 10 shot attempts with six of the first 10 coming from beyond the arc.

By the end of the first quarter, the Aces had made 5-of-16 from the field including a 5-for-11 mark from three-point range.

“If we were in a race, we’re idling at the start line,” Hammon said. “While other people have the gas all the way to the floor.” It wasn’t until the 9:22-mark of the second quarter when Las Vegas made its first two-point field goal.

Still the team struggled in the first half to the tune of 11-of-31 shooting with a 7-for-19 mark from downtown.

“Hell no,” Hammon said when asked if she liked the shot selection. “They didn’t want to work for it, they just wanted it to be easy. We’re just going to sit out there and launch threes.”

Atlanta led by as many as 20 points in the first half on the strength of a 17-0 advantage in the fast break category.

Las Vegas did make a run in the second half, even cutting the deficit all the way down to six. In fact, it was an and-one from forward A’ja Wilson that evoked a technical foul from former Aces assistant and now Dream head coach, Tanisha Wright.

After falling behind again by double-digits, this time 23 points, Las Vegas made another run. This time it was a 10-0 run that cut the lead down to 12.

That would be as close as the Aces would get in a game where they never led. With 1:36 left in the game, Hammon emptied her bench.

Las Vegas forward A'ja Wilson reacts to an and-one basket against Atlanta. Photo Credit: Las Vegas Aces

Wilson became the franchise leader in 20-point games after posting 22 points to go along with 10 rebounds for her 14th double-double of the season.

She also became the first 20-point scorer for the Aces this year against Atlanta.

Guards Jackie Young and Kelsey Plum followed suit with double-figure scoring nights, recording 18 and 17 points respectively.

While the Aces struggled in the first quarter it was the exact opposite for the Dream, especially No. 1 overall pick Rhyne Howard.

“Obviously, we know Rhyne Howard can shoot the ball,” Hammon said. “Just a lot of people shook free but a lot of it stemmed from one-on-one defense, one-on-one mistakes.”

Howard went off early, racing out to nine points in a little over three and a half minutes to start the game. She ended the first quarter with 11 points after being held to just 13 points in the first meeting between these two teams in Atlanta.

By the end of the first half, she would be up to 19 points on 7-of-11 shooting with five made threes to just one miss. Howard would finish with 24 points and six made threes.

In the second half, it was Dream guard Tiffany Hayes that drew the ire of the Michelob Ultra crowd.

Hayes scored 17 of her game-high 31 points in the second half, highlighted by a 12-point showing in the fourth quarter. She shot 11-of-13 from the floor with a 4-for-5 mark from three-point territory.

She did not play in the first meeting between the two teams.

“Tiffany Hayes is a great guard in our league,” Wilson said. “This is what she does, she attacks the paint, plays from pretty much all three levels. At the end of the day, we just have to contain penetration without fouling.”

As a team, Atlanta shot 52% from the field and 63% from three-point range.

“A lot of following them around,” Hammon said. “No physicality, no one-on-one defense – I mean, you could go down the list. We didn’t have any post defense. Basically, we did a lot of things wrong.”


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