Plum, Wilson lead late charge as Aces snap skid
Las Vegas guard Kelsey Plum and forward A’ja Wilson both led the charge late in the team’s most recent outing, helping to end a two-game losing streak.
The Aces beat the Los Angeles Sparks, 79-73, Monday, June 27 from the Crypto.com Arena.
Las Vegas had won the first two meetings by an average of 22.5 points per game.
“It was important to start the road trip right,” head coach Becky Hammon said. “But we also needed to start winning again. It was good to get a road win. It’s really tough to beat a team three times – any team, any league.”
Now off the schneid, the Aces improve to 14-4 on the year and remain undefeated in the Western Conference.
Currently, the team leads Seattle by three games in the conference and lead Chicago by a full game for tops in the WNBA.
After the game, Wilson admitted that ‘Winning covers up a lot.”
The win against Los Angeles opens a four-game road trip for Las Vegas with Seattle as the next stop.
That game is scheduled for Wednesday, June 29 from the Climate Pledge Arena in Seattle. Tip-off is set for 7 p.m.
This season, the Aces are 6-1 on the road.
Las Vegas didn’t snag its first lead of the game until the 3:44-mark of the second quarter. That came as part of an 18-7 run over the final 8:49 of the first half.
That set the stage for Plum to score 18 of her game-high 29 points in the third quarter.
Earlier this week, she was named to her first WNBA All-Star Game. In addition, she made the team as a starter.
“The reason I’ve been a great teammate and a good basketball player this year is because I stopped looking for validation from outside places,” Plum said. “I’m here to play, I’m here to be a good teammate and I’m here to try and win games.”
Plum drained a three-pointer early in the fourth quarter that cut the Los Angeles lead down to one.
Late in the quarter, she’d knock down another one to put Las Vegas up, 67-65. Immediately following, she’d secure a wild sideline save to teammate and fellow guard Jackie Young.
With the game on the line, Plum iced two free throws to put the Aces on top by five with 36.9 seconds left in regulation.
Plum scored her 29 points on 8-of-16 from the field including four made threes to go along with five assists, three rebounds and three steals.
“Tonight, we were just trying to come off the pick-and-roll,” she said. “I thought A’ja was incredible especially in stretches where we needed big buckets. [forward Dearica Hamby] made a big bucket when it mattered. Definitely was a team win.”
Wilson had it going from the start as she scored seven of her 25 points in the first quarter.
By halftime, she had 17 points, six rebounds, three steals and a block.
Late in the fourth quarter, Wilson converted an and-one that gave Las Vegas the edge by four points.
In addition, she claimed her 10th double-double of the season while putting the finishing touches on a four-steal night. In the team’s last meeting against the Sparks, she had four blocks.
Her final stat line was 25 points on 50% shooting, 11 rebounds, four steals and a block.
In three games against LA this season, Wilson is averaging 28 points and 9.3 rebounds per contest.
“It’s just the game,” she said. “I’ve got to produce for my team in any way and I’m just taking what the defense gives me. LA really sped me up this time and made me work for my buckets and I love that.”
Prior to the start of the game, it was announced that guard Chelsea Gray would miss the contest while pertaining to a personal matter.
“We’re obviously in constant communication with her,” Hammon said. “I just told her, ‘Do what you need to do. You’re a pro but family comes first.’”
It was a rough start to the game as Las Vegas compiled three turnovers before completing its second assist of the game.
In the first half, the Aces would total 10 assists on 14 made field goals on the way to 15 dimes on 26 made shots by the final buzzer.
Young led the team in assists with seven helpers in addition to nine points on 4-of-11 shooting and five rebounds.
“It’s probably one of the most undervalued parts of her game,” Hammon said. “She’s a 3-1 which is a weird combo, most people go 3-2 or 2-1. It’s a very rare combo you’re a three then your next best position might be at point guard. And she’s one of those rare birds where that’s the case.”
While it was the team’s first contest of the year without Gray, the team did have guard Riquna Williams in uniform for the first time in May 17 and only the third time this year.
“Those are big shoes to fill when you’ve got the Point Gawd out,” Wilson said. “I feel like Jackie with one hand with seven assists that’s pretty decent for her.”