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Offensive struggles at the forefront of Aces second home loss

Las Vegas head coach Becky Hammon is pictured smiling during the team's double-digit loss against Seattle. Photo Credit: Las Vegas Aces

Las Vegas’ A’ja Wilson continued her unprecedented stretch of games with 20-plus points and 10-plus rebounds but the heroics weren’t enough to lead the Aces to victory in their latest outing.

The Seattle Storm (7-3) handed Las Vegas (5-3) their second home loss of the season, winning Friday night by a final score of 78-65. 

Seattle notched its fifth consecutive win, while knocking Las Vegas back to its second loss in its last three outings. Head coach Becky Hammon didn’t mince words following the loss.

“We’re not a very good team right now,” Hammon said. “We’re not committed to doing the little things to be successful.”

While the Aces’ record doesn’t reflect that of a bad team, there is one clear observation through the seven-game sample size - that being, this is not last year’s Aces team. 

Scoring has been the Aces’ calling card for the last couple of years. In fact, they’ve led the WNBA in points per game every season, dating back to 2020. 

Friday’s 65-point output was the third-lowest regular season point total for Las Vegas during Hammon’s entire tenure as head coach. Much of that can be attributed to poor shooting as Seattle’s defense was more than up to the test.

“I actually liked some of the shots we were getting,” Hammon said. “We just didn’t make them.”

Las Vegas last held the lead early in the second quarter but would unsuccessfully played catch-up for the rest of the game.

Aces forward A'ja Wilson looks for free space while around Storm center Ezi Magebor. Photo Credit: Las Vegas Aces

The frontline of center Ezi Magbegor and forward Nneka Oguimike played stellar for Seattle, combining for 26 points, 26 rebounds and four steals with the former adding three blocked shots

Guard Jewell Loyd led Seattle in scoring with 25 points and veteran point guard Skylar Diggins-Smith chipped in 21.

“Defensively we didn’t have enough intensity,” guard Kelsey Plum said before hinting at a possible playoff matchup down the line. “They’re a team that’s going to be tough, especially in September and October.”

Wilson followed with more praise for the Storm.

“When they came together I tweeted that they were a superteam,” Wilson said. “They have a great, great lineup.”

Wilson turned a slow first-half into a 29-point outing, converting 13-of-14 free throw attempts to go along with 11 rebounds, as the league’s leading scorer and rebounder. Plum added 18 points with three makes from beyond the arc.

Guard Jackie Young played despite feeling ill, and mustered just three points on 1-of-12 shooting. 

Las Vegas guard Kelsey Plum dribbles while defended by Seattle guard Skylar Diggins-Smith. Photo Credit: Las Vegas Aces

In just her second game with the team, veteran guard Tiffany Hayes also struggled from the floor, finishing with five points on 1-of-8 shooting. 

The lackluster offense brings more attention to the void left by all-star point guard Chelsea Gray. She has yet to play this season and remains without a timeline to return while nursing a lower leg injury. 

Last season, she contributed 15 points and seven assists per game. 

Until Gray returns, whenever that may be, the Aces will have to look within and find a way to bounce back. Their next opportunity to do so comes Sunday, on the road against the Los Angeles Sparks (3-7). Tip-off is scheduled for 6 p.m.

It’s worth noting that Las Vegas drops to 1-1 in Commissioner’s Cup play. It’s a five-game tournament in which the two best teams play for the trophy, along with a cash prize for the players and a charity of the winning team’s choice.


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