For the first time this season, the Las Vegas Aces have officially lost at home.
Los Angeles shocked Las Vegas, 78-72, Saturday, Aug. 19 from the Michelob Ultra Arena to run its win streak to four straight games. It's the first time the Aces have lost to the Sparks since 2019.
“We’re definitely getting into the toughest part of our schedule,” head coach Becky Hammon said. “This is the classic ‘let-up game.’ You exerted so much [last game] then you’ve already beaten this team three times and we were up –I don't know how many in LA when we were there last time – probably about 40 or 50.”
Prior to this outcome, Las Vegas had won the first three meetings of the year by an average of 18.7 points per outing. Los Angeles also had a week off in preparation for the matchup while its opponent played two games in the meantime.
“I forgot they had the week off,” forward A’ja Wilson said with a smile. “I get it now [...] Give us a week off and see if we don’t shoot like this.”
The loss goes down as the first official loss at home for the team, sending them to 16-1 on the year to end a four-game homestand not including the Commissioner’s Cup title game. Overall, the Aces are 28-4 on the season.
“That’s big time,” Wilson said. “It really is. Our fans come out every single night to support us and they’re really the sixth man that we always need. We lean on them a lot.”
Tuesday, Aug. 22 Las Vegas will travel to Atlanta for a date with the Dream that marks the start of a four-game road trip.
With less than five minutes to play in regulation, the Sparks went on an 8-0 run to regain a double-digit lead. Even when the Aces cut the deficit down to two via a 7-0 run with 92 seconds left on the clock.
A response field goal from Los Angeles’ Nneka Ogwumike put the visitors back up two possessions.
“I think we were a little laxed in some cases,” Wilson said. “It seems like we were just one possession away.”
The Sparks had an answer for everything all night long beginning in the first quarter with a 14-0 run on the way to a 24-15 opening frame. As they have all season long, the Aces used a 12-2 second quarter run to come within a point of tying the game.
“I don’t know why you’re fatigued in the first quarter,” Hammon said. “It becomes an approach too, a mental approach. It’s a classic, to me, last game before we go on the road – if there’s any excuse it's probably that. It was a classic ‘let-up’ game.”
Later in the second, Las Vegas would snatch its first lead since being up 6-5 in the opening minutes. Again, Los Angeles had a response. LA held the defending champs scoreless for the final 2:26 of the first half while sprouting an 8-0 run, heading into the locker room up six.
Wilson scored 10 points in the first quarter including the first six points for her team. With just over three minutes left in the third quarter, she was the lone Aces player in double-figures with 12 points. At that point, there were three Sparks players with at least 10 points.
“I thought there were plays where we could’ve shared a lot better,” Hammon said. “I can get frustrated with that. I’m not mad we missed some wide open ones, that happens, nobody is trying to miss shots. But when I see people trying to get it back in oe play, I have a problem with that.”
Wilson finished with a team-high 25 points on 21 shot attempts to go along with nine rebounds, also a team-high.
Starting guards Chelsea Gray and Kelsey Plum combined to score 22 points on 8-of-25 from the field including 3-of-12 from three-point range.
“We’ve got to be a little bit smarter,” Gray said. “We’ll take a look at film and get better.”
Guard Jackie Young added 11 points, five assists and four steals as the final Las Vegas player in double-figures.