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Game 4 Recap: Las Vegas Aces defeat New York Liberty to win second title in a row

Down two starters in Chelsea Gray and Kiah Stokes and down by 12 points in the third quarter, the Las Vegas Aces found a way to close out the New York Liberty and become the WNBA’s first back-to-back champions since 2002.

2023 WNBA Finals - Game Four
Becky Hammon and A’ja Wilson celebrate the Las Vegas Aces’ second-straight WNBA championship.
Photo by Sarah Stier/Getty Images

The Las Vegas Aces etched their name in the history book, beating the New York Liberty 70-69 to win the WNBA title, their second in a row. They are the first team to repeat as champs in 21 years.

Without 2022 Finals MVP Chelsea Gray, as well as Kiah Stokes, it took a championship effort from the six players who got significant playing time for the Aces to pull out the win. WNBA Finals MVP A'ja Wilson finished the night scoring 24 points and grabbing a whopping 16 rebounds. She produced at this MVP level without attempting a 3-point shot.

Cayla George, who only played a total seven minutes across the series’ first three games, took Stokes' starting spot and played 30 minutes, scoring 11 points on 4-for-14 shooting while Jackie Young had a bounce-back game, scoring 16 points and dishing out seven assists.

New York was in control for most of the game and had a balanced attack with four of their five starters scoring in double figures. But the Aces executed just a bit better during the final minutes of crunch time, with Wilson scoring the winning basket with 1:27 left. The Liberty fell just short of a comeback after a Courtney Vandersloot jumper failed to go in as time expired.

Key moments

After the first half, a Game 5 seemed inevitable. New York weathered a couple of offensive outbursts from Las Vegas and held a nine-point advantage heading into the break. Courtney Vandersloot was playing her best game of the Finals and Betnijah Laney had 11 points on 50 percent shooting. With the Aces so shorthanded, there weren't many adjustments or options for Vegas head coach Becky Hammon to go to.

Down by 12 in the third, the Aces displayed that championship courage and went on a run that will be discussed for years to come. Led by the trio of Wilson, Young and Alysha Clark, the Aces closed out the quarter on a 9-0 run and that momentum bled into the fourth quarter as they outscored the Liberty 7-2 to start the final period.

With the game even at 60 with 5:26 left, we had our first close game of the Finals. Both teams exchanged haymakers, with Kelsey Plum converting her free throws and Young relentlessly attacking the basket for the Aces. Sabrina Ionescu hit huge 3s and Vandersloot scored five of her 19 points in the final frame to keep New York in it until the very end. The Liberty had the last shot and a plenty of time, but Breanna Stewart opted to pass the ball to the opposite side and Vandersloot's final attempt missed. Though Jonquel Jones eventually grabbed the rebound, it was too late as time had run out—and the Aces had won on the road to seal the title.

Key takeaways

From beginning of the 2023 season to end the Las Vegas Aces not only were the best team in the WNBA, but they were historically great—setting a new WNBA record with 36 regular-season wins and losing just one game during this playoff run.

They had their bumps along the way and injuries almost turned their season into a “what if,” but they gritted and grindded out a victory, relying on their superstar Wilson and another stellar game from Young. They are in rarefied air. While they deservedly will celebrate deep into the night as the first team to go back-to-back in over two decades, there’s no reason they can’t go for a third-straight title next season and officially become a dynasty.