A’ja Wilson is back! And the Las Vegas Aces defeated the Chicago Sky on Sunday 100-85.
Coming off the bench, Wilson quickly reminded everyone of the degree to which she can raise the floor for the championship-minded Aces, authoritatively posting up and aggressively taking the ball to the hoop.
She also combined with recent birthday gal Liz Cambage to put pressure on Chicago’s bigs.
Wilson had scored 13 points at the half, with Cambage adding nine. On the other side, Stefanie Dolson and Cheyenne Parker faced foul trouble, each picking up three rather quickly. But that didn’t help Vegas to gain much separation. Even with below-average shooting, Chicago still found ways to score. Allie Quigley, Diamond DeShields and Gabby Williams worked their way to eight first-half points apiece, with Courtney Vandersloot contributing five assists.
The Sky trailed by only six points at the half (47-41).
In the second half, the battle inside again commenced. The force of Wilson and Cambage frustrated the Sky’s interior players, exemplified by an early technical foul for Parker.
Cheyenne Parker got heated at Liz Cambage bumping into her, and the look on Cambage's face... pic.twitter.com/UfnuqEaBit— Dime (@DimeUPROXX) August 18, 2019
To remain in striking distance, Chicago turned to the perimeter, with DeShields sinking two critical threes just as Las Vegas appeared poised to extend their lead.
Throughout the third quarter, the Sky still prevented the Aces from pulling away, securing strategic stops and scores. In the fourth, rookie Katie Lou Samuelson provided Chicago with a spark. Playing the stretch four, Samuelson held her own on the defensive end while draining a pair of threes on the offensive end. DeShields also used her athleticism to convert some crucial buckets.
But Las Vegas ultimately had their way inside, with post-ups and put-backs from Cambage and Wilson putting the game away for the Aces. Cambage finished with a double-double, scoring 23 points and grabbing 10 rebounds. Wilson had 25 points and eight rebounds. The victory also clinched Vegas a spot in the playoffs, the organization’s first postseason appearance since 2014.
For Chicago, DeShields scored a game-high 28 points, while Courtney Vandersloot had 11 points to go with nine assists. Cheyenne Parker added 16 points and seven boards.
Propelled by 16 points and nine assists from the ever-steady Jasmine Thomas and 18 points from the ever-confident Courtney Williams, the Sun defeated the Wings and clinched a spot in the playoffs. Although it was not enough, Allisha Gray led Dallas with 22 points, demonstrating the scoring prowess promised by her 2017 Rookie of the Year campaign. 2019 Rookie of the Year candidate Arike Ogunbowale continued to flash her bucket-getting ability, putting in 20 points.
D.C. for three! The Mystics swished a WNBA record 18 threes! These 54 points from behind the arc helped them score a game total of 107 points, the most scored by a WNBA team this season. Aerial Powers continued to show that being in the starting lineup suits her — she scored 19 points on 60% shooting, including four 3-pointers. The other Ariel, Atkins, made four threes from distance. Elena Delle Donne drained three from deep on her way to 25 points in 25 minutes. The Fever, who showed fight early, lost their footing when Candice Dupree went out with a hand injury. Teaira McCowan, however, again showed her potential for future low-post dominance, converting six of seven shots for 14 points.
Only six members of the Mercury scored on Sunday. But when DeWanna Bonner drops 30 points, it doesn’t matter. With a double-double of 30 points and 10 rebounds, Bonner not only captained Phoenix to a crucial win but reinserted herself into the MVP conversation. For New York, 2012 MVP Tina Charles notched a double-double, scoring 23 points and grabbing 13 rebounds. Nonetheless, the Liberty lost their eighth-straight game.
After Odyssey Sims scintillated in the third quarter, scoring 18 points, Alysha Clark shut her down in the fourth and sealed the win for the Storm. Scoring 10 points, Clark was a game-best plus-16. On the offensive end, Seattle received contributions from across their lineup, with all starters scoring in double figures. Sims still managed to finish with 30 points for the game, the most scored by a Lynx player this season. Yet, outside of Napheesa Collier and Sylvia Fowles, who scored 16 and 11 points, respectively, Sims received little scoring help.
Where things stand
The playoff-bound Mystics, Sun and Aces preserved their spots at the top of the standings with victories. Despite the loss, the Sky held onto the five seed, ahead of the sixth-seeded Storm. The combination of a Mercury win and Lynx loss put Phoenix in seventh and dropped Minnesota to eighth. Losses for the Fever, Wings and Liberty have made their playoff dreams all but impossible.
The return of Brittney Griner headlines a four-game Tuesday slate — Phoenix faces Vegas in a battle of the bigs. After a pair of games on Thursday, Friday features an enticing three-game slate, featuring two main events: Vegas visiting Connecticut and Washington meeting Chicago.