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Aces vs Dallas Wings

Wade Vandervort

The Las Vegas Aces celebrate after defeating the Dallas Wings, 89-82, during a WNBA basketball game at Michelob Ultra Arena Wednesday, July 5, 2023.

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Even without one of their All-Stars, it’s almost expected for the Las Vegas Aces to just show up and win.

It eventually got to that point for the Aces, rallying from as many as 14 points down to win 89-82 over the Dallas Wings at Michelob ULTRA Arena on Wednesday, in what was their ugliest win in a season that’s had many of them.

On a team that has All-Stars galore and superstar-like talent, the Aces still had to find a way to rally without guard Kelsey Plum, who was a late scratch due to a non-COVID illness. The results: Jackie Young scored a team-high 28 points, A’ja Wilson had 22 points and 13 rebounds, and Chelsea Gray finished with 20 points and six assists to power the Aces to a 16-1 start and their 15th straight win at home.

“I just tried to be aggressive from the start, get downhill,” said Young, who shot 10 of 15 from the floor and had seven rebounds and five assists. “KP, she does that for us and we feed off that. I was just trying to pick up the slack.”

Alysha Clark got the start in Plum’s place, finishing with 10 points.

It’s hard to believe the Aces had to change their offensive approach considering they scored 89 points, four points off their league-leading average, and still had an efficient shooting night of 46.2% from the floor and 45% from 3-point range (9 of 20). Plum’s ball-handling and breaking down defenses off the dribble was missed.

Clark’s defensive versatility gave Las Vegas a different look, but she can contribute offensively in her own way; she went 3 of 6 from 3-point range on Wedensday.

But it was an ugly start in the first quarter. Dallas jumped out to a 26-12 lead midway through the opening frame. Part of it was the Wings’ blistering shooting, making 12 of their first 18 shots.

Turnovers told the story. The Aces had six turnovers in the first quarter and 10 in the first half. Nine of Dallas’ points in the first 10 minutes came off those six turnovers.

“Playing in a crowd, forcing things that weren’t there, the ball was sticking,” coach Becky Hammon said. “It looked like we hadn’t played offense in, like, two months.”

The Aces ended the first quarter with a 9-0 run to close the 14-point deficit to five points, and eventually pushed that run to 19-6 in the early stages of the second quarter and trailed 32-31.

The Wings closed the quarter on a 19-11 spurt and took a 51-42 lead into halftime. Despite the Aces shooting 50% from the floor, the 10 turnovers were a difficult hurdle to clear in the first 20 minutes.

Las Vegas, who had just three turnovers in the second half, was never out of the game.

“For us to have 10 turnovers at halftime, it’s uncharacteristic of us,” Clark said. “I think we were just rushing a little bit. They’re long on the defensive side of the floor, so it’s something we’re used to getting.” 

Even without Plum, the Aces hung around because of their other guards. Young had 15 points in the first half, while Gray had 14. That offset what was overall a rough shooting night for Wilson. Despite finishing with her 65th career double-double, the Western Conference Player of the Month for May shot 6 of 18 from the field but went 10 of 12 from the free-throw line.

The third quarter turned the tide for the Aces in their last two games — going on a 24-9 run to open the third against New York, and then a 17-0 run to begin the second half against Connecticut on Saturday.

The third time was the charm with the Aces opening on a 13-3 run and tying it 55-55 with 5:22 remaining. Dallas, however, had a response of its own with a 10-0 run — three layups, a 3-pointer, and a technical foul called on Hammon.

Which the Aces responded with a 10-2 run of their own to make it a 67-65 game heading into the fourth quarter.

Adversity has been hard to come by with the Aces during this winning streak. Prior to Wednesday, all but one of Las Vegas’ games were decided by double digits. Prior to facing the Liberty just under a week ago, Hammon had hoped for some adversity to see if her group could handle it, despite being the best team in the WNBA.

Defensively, they handled it at the right time. The Aces held the Wings to 31 points in the second half and kept Dallas to 30.8% shooting. They held Dallas guard Arike Ogunbowale, the second-leading scorer in the league at 22.1 points per game, to just 5 of 20 shooting and 12 points.

Natasha Howard was Dallas’ lifeline with a game-high 32 points and 13 rebounds, but was held to 2 of 7 shooting in the fourth quarter.

“We looked like the worst defensive team in the first half, and then one of the best in the second half,” Hammon said.

The Aces and Wings will meet again Friday, this time in College Park Center in Arlington. Plum is questionable to travel with the Aces, who will travel to Minnesota to face the Lynx on Sunday.

There has yet to be a team from the Western Conference to step up to the Aces. The shorthanded Dallas team without Diamond DeShields (knee) and Kalani Brown proved up to the task.

But the Aces continue to prove they’re not afraid of taking a few shots, shorthanded or not, to keep this run going.

“I like it not being easy,” Hammon said. “They gave us nothing easy, but we had to go and take it. I don’t mind us getting punched a little bit. What I’m concerned with is how we respond. It shouldn’t be easy. It should be hard. When you have those moments of hard, you can choose to go off in your own direction or come together and fight together. That’s one thing that this group has really become good at, is being together.”

Danny Webster can be reached at 702-259-8814 or [email protected]. Follow Danny on Twitter at

Article written by #LasVegasSun