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Recap: Los Angeles shocks Las Vegas, snaps Aces’ 21-game home winning streak

The Sparks not only handed the Aces their first regular-season home loss since 2022, but they also earned themselves a four-game winning streak, and the eighth and final spot in the playoff standings.

Los Angeles Sparks v Las Vegas Aces
Jordin Canada attacks the basket against Kelsey Plum during the Sparks’ upset victory over the Aces.
Photo by David Becker/NBAE via Getty Images

The Los Angeles Sparks shocked the basketball world by beating the Las Vegas Aces 78-72 on Saturday afternoon.

It not only was the first regular-season home loss of the season for the Aces, but also their first in the last 21 home games. With the victory, the Sparks now have sole possession of the eighth and final playoff spot.

It was a coalition of the willing that lifted LA above Las Vegas on the road, but, from that group, Jordin Canada shined the brightest. She ended the night with 20 points, three assists and three steals. Layshia Clarendon also had an outstanding performance with 22 points, five assists and five rebounds.

Las Vegas was within striking distance throughout the fourth quarter, but could never get over the hump, despite a valiant effort from A’ja Wilson, who ended the night with 25 points and nine rebounds. The Aces are now 28-4 on the season and can still tie the 1998 Houston Comets for the highest single-season winning percentage of all time if they win their remaining eight games.

Key moments

LA took control from the jump, dominating Las Vegas in the first quarter 24-15. The only bright spot for Las Vegas was Wilson, who scored the team’s first 10 points. Canada was red hot from three for LA, going 3-for-4 from downtown and scoring 11 points in the opening frame.

The Aces didn’t go away quietly, responding with a 12-4 run to start the second quarter and regaining the lead with under three minutes to go in the half after a pair of Kelsey Plum free throws. The Sparks then offered their response, reeling off a big 8-0 run to close out the half and lead 42-36 at the break.

The third quarter reminded you why Vegas is a top team. Alysha Clark hit back-to-back 3s, Chelsea Gray distributed the ball well and Wilson was her MVP self. LA could barely hang on to the lead, entering the fourth up by just two.

It’s been a point of emphasis during this winning streak that the Sparks have executed well in the fourth quarter, and Saturday was no exception. The Aces got within a basket on multiple occasions, including with 1:32 left. But LA never folded. Nneka Ogwumike hit a critical layup and converted a pair of free throws to extend the lead to six. Clarendon then iced the game with two more from the charity stripe, giving LA their fourth win in a row and their first victory against Las Vegas in 14 attempts.

Key takeaways

Is Las Vegas tired? Having to play your best because everyone is bringing it has to take a toll. The Aces have had a target on their back since the start of the season and, with Candace Parker out, it feels like the burden is becoming too much to bear.

Yes, they are still the defending champs and still the favorites to win it all, but the dream of achieving the best winning percentage of all time, repeating as Commissioner’s Cup champions and going back-to-back is gone. They already lost the Commissioner’s Cup and another loss takes the all-time winning percentage mark off the table. If the Aces don’t keep the main thing the main thing—winning it all—they can go from arguably the greatest team of all time to one of the most disappointing. And things aren’t getting any easier, as Vegas begins at four-game road trip in Atlanta on Tuesday.

For Los Angeles, this is the best this team has played all year. They just shocked the WNBA world with this win, have won four in a row for the first time this season and now control their destiny in terms of making the playoffs. They face the struggling Phoenix Mercury next so they should expect to extend the winning streak on Wednesday when they play at the Galen Center at USC.