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A’Ja Wilson, Aces out to deal Wings more misery

Sep 24, 2023; Las Vegas, Nevada, USA; Las Vegas Aces center A'ja Wilson (22) looks for a clear shot during the second half of game one of the 2023 WNBA Playoffs at Michelob Ultra Arena. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports
Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

The Las Vegas Aces can take a commanding lead in their WNBA semifinal series when they play host to the Dallas Wings in Game 2 on Tuesday.

The defending champions took the series opener 97-83 at home Sunday behind a standout performance from reigning MVP A’ja Wilson.

Wilson scored 34 points in Game 1 on 15-of-21 shooting from the floor and grabbed eight rebounds. She outscored Dallas on her own in the pivotal third quarter with 14 points, while the Wings combined for 12. The Aces took control with 26 total points in the period.

“Becky cussed us out at halftime,” Wilson said of Aces head coach Becky Hammon. “If your coach is holding you accountable, and she is demanding that from us, we ain’t got nothing else to do, because that’s our job.” ‘

Wilson, who was named Defensive Player of the Year for a second consecutive season Friday, rounded out her contributions with four blocked shots and a pair of steals.

A candidate to be named a two-time MVP when the 2023 award is announced Tuesday, Wilson heads into Game 2 having scored 72 points in her last two playoff games. She went for 38 points and 16 rebounds in a 92-70 series-clinching blowout of the Chicago Sky on Sept. 17.

While looking to even the best-of-five series before heading home for Game 3, Dallas must account for both Wilson on the interior and the Las Vegas perimeter players. Kelsey Plum and Jackie Young each hit five 3-pointers in Sunday’s game.

“We weren’t doing very well at the point of attack and then on ball screens,” Wings coach Latricia Trammell said. “Once we clean that up going into Tuesday’s game it’s going to be much better.”

Trammell also emphasized the need for a better all-around performance from the starting five. While all five starters scored at least seven points, and four finished in double figures, at issue were 12 turnovers with the Aces scoring 21 points off those miscues.

The Wings’ Arike Ogunbowale, who averaged 21.2 points per game in the regular season, was limited to just 12 points on Sunday on 4-of-14 shooting.

–Field Level Media

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