LAS VEGAS — The Las Vegas Aces advanced to the WNBA semifinals with a 92-70 win over the Chicago Sky, completing a two-game sweep in a best-of-three series in the opening round of the playoffs.
A’ja Wilson led four players in double figures, as she scored a franchise playoff-record 38 points to go along with her 16 points.
Wilson, who broke Aces coach Becky Hammon’s record of 35 points from her days with the franchise when it was in San Antonio, is the first player with at least 35 points, 15 rebounds, 3 steals and 3 blocks in any WNBA game.
“Somebody should have told me. I would have pulled her out early,” Hammon said laughingly.
Jackie Young scored 15 points for the Aces while Kelsey Plum added 10. Alysha Clark came off the bench to score 14 points for Las Vegas.
Chicago was led by Kahleah Copper, who had 25 points, while Dana Evans finished with 22.
Chicago trailed by as many as 28 points, but used a 17-2 run to cut Las Vegas’ lead to just nine points, at 71-62, with 6:26 left in the game. The Aces turned on the afterburners from there, and went on a 14-0 run to extend their lead to 22 points and seal the win.
Here are three takeaways from the game:
The Aces advance to the semi-finals for the fifth consecutive season. They’ve been in Las Vegas for six seasons, originally starting in Utah, where they were the Starzz for six seasons and advanced to conference semifinals once and conference finals once. They relocated to San Antonio and adjusted their nickname to the Silver Stars for 11 seasons before becoming simply the Stars for their last four years in Texas. They went to the playoffs every year during a six-year stretch and in seven of eight seasons from 2007-2014, including a trip to the finals in 2008. The defending champion Aces have been to the WNBA Finals twice, losing to the Seattle Storm in the bubble in 2020. But don’t bring up the word dynasty just yet.
“We’ve only one,” Wilson said. “When you’re talking about a dynasty and legacy and those types of teams, you have to win a couple (of titles),” Wilson said. “Are we doing something special? One hundred percent. … We got a do little bit more winning. We still have a lot more to grow, a lot more to learn. Give us a little, couple more years.”
Eye on A’ja
A scary moment for the reigning MVP, and candidate to win again this season, took place late in the fourth quarter, when Chicago’s Elizabeth Williams accidentally smacked Wilson in the right eye. As Plum drove to the left side of the key and floated a pass to Wilson, Williams swatted to deflect the ball and connected with the Aces’ star’s face. Wilson was immediately taken out of the game and during a postgame interview her eye was visibly reddened and swollen.
“I got popped in the eye underneath the basket,” Wilson said. “I didn’t understand where it came from, but I got popped like real bad. I got hit. … It’s good, I can see out of it. I’ve never really had 20-20 (vision) in my life. It’s normal to me.”
The Aces will open the second round of the playoffs against either the Dallas Wings or Atlanta Hawks next Sunday in Las Vegas in a best-of-five series. The Aces will host the first two games, with Game 2 scheduled for Tuesday, Sept. 26. Game 3 will be in either Dallas or Atlanta on Friday, Sept. 29. If a Game 4 is necessary it will be on the road on Sunday, Oct. 1. A decisive Game 5 would be played in Las Vegas on Tuesday, Oct. 3.
“I’m going to give the girls a couple of days off,” Hammon said. “We’ll be in working, prepping (the coaches). It’s hard to manage. But I know the rest will do us well. I get concerned about a little bit of rest coming into the first quarter of the next round.”