Storm too much for Aces’ poor outing

DJ Cabanlong-The Sporting Tribune
The Aces fall to 5-3 on the season with a double-digit loss to the new-look Seattle Storm at home on Friday night.

LAS VEGAS — If there’s one thing takeaway through the first month of the season, it’s that the Aces are really going to have to earn their third straight WNBA title.

Friday’s game against the new-look Seattle Storm was just further evidence of that. The Aces suffered a 78-65 defeat at the hands of Nneka Ogwumike, Skylar Diggins-Smith and the upstart Seattle Storm on Friday night. The Aces trailed by double-digits most of the night, but they did present a challenge in the third quarter before the Storm rallied to close it out in the fourth.

“Our approach sucks,” said Becky Hammon. “I can’t articulate enough how badly teams want to beat us. We’ve just had a very satisfactory, ‘show-up-and-think-we’re-going-to-fucking-win-the-game’ approach.”

The Aces trailed by eight at halftime. Their struggles were in no small part due to an abysmal shooting half from A’ja Wilson and Jackie Young, as the Aces stars went a combined 3-of-16 from the field for a combined -20.

“Physically I’m hurting, but at the same time, nobody really cares,” said A’ja Wilson. “It’s something that I’m just going to continue to work through. All of my teammates, everybody in this league is hurting in some type of way. This league is hard, and mentally, you know, it’s just it’s the next up mentality.”

“(You can use pain as an excuse) if you want it to, what’s the fucking excuse in the first and second quarter? We tired then? Every team has to push through this. This is way more mental than anything. Is there a fatigue factor? Sure, I’ll buy that to some degree, but who cares?”

The first half damage would have been far worse had it not been for a 14-point half from Kelsey Plum. The scoring outburst included three 3-pointers and an and-one as Plum went 5-of-10 from the field. The only other Ace who shot over 25% for the half was Megan Gustafson, who went 1-of-1 from behind-the-arc.

With Young likely still nursing whatever ailment nearly kept her out of Wednesday’s game, it was doubly important for Wilson to pick up the slack for both herself and her teammate in the second half. And that she did.

Wilson went absolutely ballistic in the third quarter, tallying 15 points on 5-of-8 shooting from the field and 5-of-6 from the line. The run catapulted the Aces back to within three points to start the fourth quarter and gave them a puncher’s chance in a game they were flatly terrible in as a team.

The fourth quarter was a reversion to the first half for Wilson and the Aces. The Storm outscored them 24-14 in the final frame and thus left Michelob Ultra Arena with the double-digit win they were slated for at halftime.