Aces rout Sun in battle between WNBA’s top teams

Lucas Peltier-USA TODAY Sports
The Aces (15-1) won their eighth straight game and improved to 9-0 at home with Saturday's 102-84 victory over the Connecticut Sun.

LAS VEGAS — Who got next?

Right now, it’s the Las Vegas Aces’ world and 11 other teams in the WNBA are simply trying to keep up.

The Aces (15-1) won their eighth straight game and improved to 9-0 at home with Saturday’s 102-84 victory over the Connecticut Sun.

It was the third meeting between last year’s WNBA finalists after the teams split a pair of games in Connecticut (12-5) earlier this season.

All five starters finished in double digits for Las Vegas, led by Kelsey Plum, who finished with 25 points just a couple of hours after being named a reserve to the WNBA All-Star game.

Reigning league MVP and third-time All-Star captain A’ja Wilson had 23 points and 13 rebounds while Candace Parker had 15. Jackie Young and Chelsea Gray each scored 11.

DeWanna Bonner led the Sun with 19 points, while Natisha Hiedeman added 13. Alyssa Thomas and DiJonai Carrington each chipped in with 12.

It was Las Vegas’ second straight dominating performance against an Eastern Conference powerhouse after the Aces dismantled the New York Liberty 98-81 on Thursday. It also cemented the Aces as a crystal-clear favorite to win their second straight championship by showing no signs of vulnerability against the best the East has to offer.

During their eight-game win streak, the Aces are outscoring teams by an average margin of +22.8 points.

Wilson and Plum both said spirited halftime speeches by coach Becky Hammon – no matter the lead – keep the Aces on their toes, no matter the opponent.

“We have to play Aces basketball for 40 minutes, no matter who we’re playing, no matter what the score is, no matter I don’t care what’s going on the outside,” Wilson said. “She makes sure that we never have lulls and just feel like we’re complacent in where we are. We have to continue to play and value every single possession because these games matter just as much as the games in the playoffs.”

Thursday against New York, the Aces opened the second half on an 11-0 run to put the game out of reach.

Saturday, the Aces opened the second half on a 17-0 run that left the Sun eclipsed by a barrage of scoring, as the defending champs turned an 11-point halftime lead into a 76-48 point runaway.

The frustrations from Connecticut’s side of the court rained down as the Aces broke the game wide open, with DeWanna Bonner getting a technical foul midway through the third. Sun guard Tiffany Hayes would later be assessed a technical and ejected from the game by official Clare Aubry when she made money signs after being called for a foul.

“They said something about doing a money sign or something. I don’t know,” Connecticut coach Stephanie White said. “We were not told that anything like this was an automatic ejection.”

But it was how things were going for the Sun, as a bucket by DiJoani Carrington at the 5:20 mark of the third quarter was deemed no good when replays just before the fourth showed the attempt was taken after the shot clock expired.

The Aces, who hit 36 of 72 (50%) from the floor in the game, have now shot 50% or better in nine of their 16 games. And what might have been the most impressive thing about Saturday’s scoring barrage was Las Vegas having its sixth-worst performance from 3-point range, hitting just 30.4% (7 of 23).

It wouldn’t matter, as the Aces once again shared the ball generously, dishing 25 assists versus a mere 12 turnovers.

“Having passers that really reward (our) kind of pace and space and just hard cutting, you get rewarded with layups,” Hammon said. “They’re a fun group to watch. … They’re ballers. They make the right play, they make the right read, and we’re starting to develop chemistry that we have little eye contacts with each other.”

After Saturday, Las Vegas ranks second in the league with 22.6 assists per game.

But make no mistake, the Aces are No. 1 all around. It’s their world with 11 other teams trying to keep up.