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Recap: A’ja Wilson’s masterful first half blows away Sparks

A’ja Wilson was 9-of-11 from the field in the first half and was on pace for 46 points. Her 19-2 Las Vegas Aces have dominated three contests since suffering their second loss of the season.

Las Vegas Aces v Los Angeles Sparks
Two members of the Los Angeles Sparks are South Carolina Gamecocks who mean a lot to A’ja Wilson: Zia Cooke (pictured here) and Destanni Henderson.
Photo by Juan Ocampo/NBAE via Getty Images

A’ja Wilson was 9-of-11 from the field with 23 points and seven rebounds in the first half Wednesday night at Arena in Los Angeles and her Las Vegas Aces cruised to a 97-78 victory over the Los Angeles Sparks to head into the All-Star break with a 19-2 record.

Kelsey Plum added four steals over the opening 20 minutes and finished with 21 points, five boards, four assists and five swipes to aid the winning cause. Wilson was 0-of-3 from the floor in the second half, finishing with 25 points, 12 rebounds and two blocks on the night.

Wilson came out looking to score. A right-wing three from her 2:20 into the contest gave her nine points and Vegas a 12-4 lead. A Jackie Young three was the other Vegas score up to that point; Young added a reverse layup that made it 18-9 at the 3:54 mark of the opening frame.

Plum gave herself five points on a deep three that made it 21-11. Soon after that, it was back to Wilson dominating. The reigning MVP hit from mid-range to make it 25-11, then scored the next two Vegas baskets, both off turnaround inside looks. One was converted into a 3-point play. Both gave the Aces a 17-point lead, which is how much they would lead by after one.

Vegas took its first 20-point lead on a beautiful Plum handoff-turned-Kiah Stokes layup. It went up 21 at the 3:38 mark of the second on a Young transition layup off an Alysha Clark steal. Wilson followed that with two free throws that gave her 21 points. A Stokes reverse layup pushed the lead to 25 and, later, a Young pull-up three pushed it to 26 at 50-24.

If not for a Destanni Henderson layup with two seconds remaining in the second, Wilson’s put-back layup that made it 54-29 with seven ticks remaining would have placed the period at the end of her dominant first half.

A 10-0 Sparks run bookended by a Jasmine Thomas three and a Karlie Samuelson three cut it to 55-41 at the 7:17 mark of the third. But LA would get no closer the rest of the way. Vegas would go on to lead by as much as 29.

Vegas Point Gawd Chelsea Gray was good for 16 points and five helpers while Young finished with 14 and five. Azurá Stevens (2-of-3 from three) dropped 22 points to go along with 12 boards and two rejections in defeat. Nneka Ogwumike added 20 points and 11 rebounds for LA (7-13).

The Sparks won rebounds 36-34, offensive rebounds 12-5 and second-chance points 17-6. But the Aces won field goal percentage 54.4 to 43.6 and performed well from beyond the arc, going 9-of-22 compared to LA’s 4-of-21 effort. They also attempted and made eight more free throws.

The Aces were without Candace Parker for the third game in a row due to an ankle injury. The Sparks were still without Chiney Ogwumike (foot), Lexie Brown (illness) and Layshia Clarendon (partial tear of the right plantar fascia).