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Recap: Diggins-Smith has career night, Dream win big in Vegas, Griner dominates Sky, rookies shine bright

It was a wild night for the WNBA. With three games on the schedule there was plenty of action and it did not disappoint. This is a recap of an eventful day in the association.

Skylar Diggins-Smith (center) commanding troops Liz Cambage (L) and Kaela Davis (R) to victory.
WNBA/Dallas Wings

It looked as if the Indiana Fever were going to grab their first win of the season. But then Skylar Diggins-Smith happened: taking over in the fourth quarter, scoring 10 points in the period to snatch victory from the jaws of defeat.

Diggins-Smith finished with a game-high 35 points to lead all scorers. Her dominance in this game extended beyond just scoring, though, as Diggins-Smith grabbed a career-high 12 rebounds and dished out 6 assists. Her career day is what stopped the Fever from coming away with their first win of the season. Instead, the Fever have now dropped seven straight games to start the year.

The Fever will be upset at all the mental mistakes they made in the game that prevented them from closing out the Wings. Blowing a 13-point second-quarter lead will be at the top of the list. Also, failing to secure defensive rebounds off of missed free throws in the final minute will usually be the difference between winning and 0-7.

Credit to Diggins-Smith and the Wings for rallying back, but the Fever’s youth and inexperience showed late in this game. On the bright side, Kelsey Mitchell continues to look legit and that may be the most important thing for the Fever right now.

BEST OF THE REST

Atlanta Dream (87) vs. Las Vegas Aces (83)

The Aces simply had no answer for the dynamic wing play of the Atlanta Dream. The Dream were excellent in sticking to their game plan defensively, which caused lots of trouble for the Aces. A’ja Wilson was getting swarmed by double teams on and off the ball, which made her visibly frustrated in a 6-of-18 shooting effort.

Meanwhile, Vegas had zero answer for Angel McCoughtry and Tiffany Hayes. McCoughtry scored 23 points while Hayes dropped in 24. The Vegas perimeter defenders simply could not stay in front of them, which either lead to layups or easy offensive rebounding opportunities for the Dream. Their inside dominance propelled the Dream to an 18-point lead in the third quarter — a lead they would never relinquish. The Dream move to 3-4 with the win, while Las Vegas falls to 1-6.

Vegas regrets

Despite falling behind big in the third quarter, Vegas showed some fight and even teased a comeback. They will be kicking themselves for all of the missed opportunities they left at the line. The Aces actually did a good job of attacking the basket and drawing fouls, and Vegas was 20-29 (69%) from the line in a four-point game. You can do the math.

Aside from free-throw shooting, the guards of the Aces struggled mightily. The Aces need to find a consistent perimeter threat to take the pressure off Wilson. Kayla McBride has been up and down, and last year’s number-one pick Kelsey Plum continues to struggle. The Aces need to find a spark quick because Wilson will be seeing plenty more double teams.

Phoenix Mercury (96) vs. Chicago Sky (79)

The Mercury continued their winning ways behind a superstar performance from Brittney Griner. Griner dominated the paint, scoring 24 points on 9-of-13 shooting from the field. Diana Taurasi chipped in 18 points and knocked down 4 three-pointers. It was an all-around dominant team effort from the Mercury, who had all five starters reach double figures. The Sky, though, should be encouraged by the play of Gabby Williams, who had her best game as a pro — dropping in 26 points on 10-of-13 shooting. The Mercury improve to 6-4 while the Sky drop to 3-4.

Final takeaways

Rookie madness! It was big night for rookies around the WNBA. Three of the top-five picks in the draft all had big nights scoring. A’ja Wilson, Kelsey Mitchell and Gabby Williams all scored 20-plus points. Despite all the efforts still resulting in losses, these teams can be confident that they’ve got long-term centerpieces. The future is bright around the league and last night was just another example.