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LV Aces Over Chicago Sky 84-80

Steve Marcus

Las Vegas Aces guard Kayla McBride (21) is congratulated by A’ja Wilson (22) and other teammates during a game against the Chicago Sky at Mandalay Bay Events Center Thursday, July 5, 2018.

The Aces escaped with their ugliest win of the season on Tuesday, as A’ja Wilson scored a go-ahead basket in the final minute to lead Las Vegas to a 60-56 win over the Seattle Storm.

The bucket capped a brutal offensive showing for the home team, as the Aces shot 31.4 percent for the game (22-of-70) and committed 17 turnovers. In a tight, back-and-forth fourth quarter, Las Vegas managed to hit just 5-of-17 from the field.

Despite the victory, head coach Bill Laimbeer was upset with his team’s error-filled performance.

“I am not happy one bit,” Laimbeer said. “We won the game but I’m disturbed because any adversity that comes our way, we don’t respond to it. We let it bother us. We take quick shots. ‘Gotta do it myself.’ We don’t finish shots. We don’t do what we’re trained to do and make moves in the post. We just go to mush. That has to change.”

Las Vegas is now 6-4 on the season and tied with Seattle (7-5) for first place in the western conference.

It probably shouldn’t have been so difficult for the Aces. Though Seattle is the defending WNBA champion, the Storm are without star forward Breanna Stewart (out for the season with a knee injury), and to make matters worse guard Jewell Loyd (the team’s second-leading scorer at 17.0 points per contest) left the game early in the second quarter with an ankle injury.

Seattle showed serious heart, however, and when Natasha Howard splashed a jump shot with five minutes remaining in the fourth quarter, the Storm found themselves ahead, 53-49.

A short bucket from Wilson brought Las Vegas within two points, and a Liz Cambage putback tied the score at 53-53 with three minutes to play. Howard hit a pair of free throws with 1:45 remaining to give Seattle the lead again. The Aces answered when Kelsey Plum passed ahead to Dearica Hamby for a breakaway layup to knot things at 55-55 with a minute left.

The Aces got a defensive stop, and after a whistle they were faced with an inbounds play from under their own basket. Wilson carved out some space inside, and though she was just 3-of-14 from the field at that point, she collected the inbound pass and scored over her defender to give Las Vegas a 57-55 lead with 45 seconds to play.

“It was not designed to come to me,” Wilson said of her go-ahead shot. “I just knew we had to get the ball in, and [the defender] was playing me on my other side … I just kind of went up with it. It was an off-night for me, so I just had to focus and finish in that situation.”

Seattle guard Shavonte Zellous got into the lane and put up a potential game-tying floater, but Cambage blocked the shot to preserve the lead.

After one made free throw by Wilson, Seattle had one more possession, trailing 58-55 with 12 seconds left. The Storm ran a play to free up Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis behind the 3-point line, but Wilson covered ground and deflected the shot to seal the win.

Wilson finished with 12 points on 4-of-15 shooting. Cambage totaled a team-high 14 points and 13 rebounds.

Laimbeer did give his team credit for playing strong defense in holding Seattle to 30.1 percent from the floor (22-of-73), but that was little consolation for the hard-driving coach.

“I’ll take the win,” he said. “Lucky that we won against a depleted team. We should have lost. That’s a fact.”

Mike Grimala can be reached at 702-948-7844 or [email protected]. Follow Mike on Twitter at

Article written by #LasVegasSun