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Recaps: Wings move into more comfortable position

The Dallas Wings won and both the New York Liberty and Los Angeles Sparks lost Thursday night, which was the perfect scenario for Dallas. Plus, the Las Vegas Aces pulled out a win over the Chicago Sky.

Atlanta Dream v Dallas Wings
Allisha Gray
Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images

Moriah Jefferson made a layup with 55.6 seconds remaining to put the Wings up five and, though the Dream cut it to two on a Courtney Williams three, Arike Ogunbowale made two free throws to ice the game with 0.6 seconds left as Dallas defeated Atlanta 72-68 on Thursday night at College Park Center in Arlington, TX.

Because the New York Liberty and Los Angeles Sparks also lost, the Wings can breathe a little easier when looking at the playoff race. They are in seventh place, 1.5 games ahead of the idle and eighth-place Washington Mystics and two games ahead of the ninth-place Liberty. Therefore, they are two games into playoff position. They are also 2.5 games ahead of the tenth-place Sparks.

“I feel like we’re in a position where we can take care of our own business, we can do it ourselves,” said Wings head coach Vickie Johnson. “We don't have to wait until Washington lose or New York lose. It’s about us and we hold our own destiny. And that's how we grow as a young team. Let’s go out and we know we have to win. Let's go and do what we have to do. It may not be pretty, but a W’s a W.”

Allisha Gray led Dallas (12-15) with 19 points and a had team-high tying 10 rebounds. Moriah Jefferson added 13 points, seven boards and six assists while Isabelle Harrison notched 11 points and 10 rebounds. Arike Ogunbowale rounded out the Wings’ double-figure scorers with 17 points.

Williams posted 25 points and seven helpers in defeat. Monique Billings added 15 points and 11 boards for the Dream (6-20), who fell behind the Indiana Fever and into sole possession of last place.

Other action

Seattle Storm (19-10) over New York Liberty (11-18), 85-75

Breanna Stewart led a come-from-behind effort with 33 points, eight rebounds, five assists and two blocks. The Storm snapped a three-game skid while the Liberty continued their losing ways, dropping their sixth contest in a row. Had Seattle lost, it would have fallen into fourth place.

Mercedes Russell (14 points) was the only other Storm player in double figures. Jewell Loyd (eight points, seven rebounds, four assists, four steals) and Katie Lou Samuelson (nine points, six rebounds, three assists, two steals) had solid games though.

Sabrina Ionescu notched 20 points, seven assists and two steals in defeat. Natasha Howard added 15 points, six boards and two steals for the Liberty while teammate Rebecca Allen was good for 17 points, two steals and two blocks.

New York was 11-of-23 (47.8 percent) from beyond the arc compared to Seattle’s 2-of-14 (14.3 percent) effort. However, the Storm were a phenomenal 23-of-26 (88.5 percent) from the free throw line, making 13 more shots and attempting 14 more than the Liberty.

“Overall we didn't shoot the three well, but I like to see 54 points in the paint and getting to the free throw line,” said Storm head coach Noelle Quinn. “And finding ways to just pull out wins in difficult situations.”

Minnesota Lynx (17-9) over Los Angeles Sparks (10-18), 66-57

The Sparks could never quite pull away from the Lynx in this one and Minnesota took control in the end. LA scored just 16 points in the second half and just four in the fourth quarter. Sylvia Fowles starred for the Lynx with 15 points and 17 rebounds.

A key moment was when Aerial Powers hit a three with 3:11 to play to put Minnesota up five. That gave the Lynx breathing room and was part of a 7-0 run to close the game.

Kayla McBride followed up her 25-point performance from Tuesday with a team-high 17 points (3-of-5 from downtown) and also had six rebounds. Powers finished with 13 points. Napheesa Collier was held to five, but recorded eight boards and four helpers.

Nneka Ogwumike (four steals) posted a 16-point, 10-rebound double-double in defeat. Erica Wheeler backed her up with 16 points, seven assists, two steals and two blocks. Both teams shot under 35 percent from the field.

“We’ll celebrate the small success, our defense did what it needed to do,” said Lynx head coach Cheryl Reeve. “Holding any team in the WNBA to four points in a quarter, really special. ... Let’s give ‘em credit for that and we’ll just keep working away at the other end.”

Las Vegas Aces (20-7) over Chicago Sky (14-14), 90-83

Despite Candace Parker’s best efforts, the Aces did not blow a 19-point lead. A’ja Wilson dropped 21 points to go along with 10 rebounds to help Vegas move within a game of the idle and first-place Connecticut Sun. The Aces are two games ahead of the Storm for the second and final double-bye spot.

Kelsey Plum (five steals) and Riquna Williams (three assists) also scored 21 points for the winners. Williams was 3-of-4 from deep. Chelsea Gray added 13 points, six rebounds and five assists to the winning cause while Kiah Stokes hauled in a team-high 13 rebounds, including the 1,000th of her career.

Parker posted 30 points and 14 rebounds in defeat and was 4-of-5 from outside. Kahleah Copper and Stefanie Dolson added 16 and 13 points, respectively, while Courtney Vandersloot notched 11 with eight helpers.

“(Coach Bill Laimbeer) just really showed us that this is what it’s gonna be,” Wilson said of the near meltdown. “We have to play hard for 40 minutes or you’re gonna let teams back in it and then it’s a dog fight. Yes, they’re fun to watch, but it’s hell to play in. So, at the end of the day, we really just have to continue to execute and really lock in for 40 minutes.”