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May 17, 2024 11:57 am

Host Aces looking to ‘smooth things out’ vs. Sparks

a'ja wilson aces

While the influx of popular rookie talent dominated the start to this WNBA season, the Las Vegas Aces are focused on remaining the league’s best team.

The two-time defending champion Aces (1-0) look to open with a second straight victory when they face the visiting Los Angeles Sparks (0-1) and prized rookie Cameron Brink on Saturday.

Somewhat lost in the preseason hype is Las Vegas’ quest for a third consecutive WNBA title. The Aces made just 40.8 percent of their shots and only led by one at halftime, but they held improved Phoenix to 38.2-percent shooting and withstood a late Mercury surge to win 89-80 in Tuesday’s opener in Las Vegas.

“It’ll be all right and we’ll smooth some things out,” Aces coach Becky Hammon said.

Aces star A’ja Wilson finished with 30 points, 13 rebounds, five assists and three blocks. Teammates Jackie Young and Kelsey Plum combined for 42 points and five of the six 3-pointers made on 29 attempts by Vegas, which played without fellow star Chelsea Gray, who is day to day with a foot injury.

“We still have a lot of work to do,” said Wilson, who averaged 23 points and 10 rebounds while Las Vegas won three of four against Los Angeles last season.

The rebuilding Sparks put themselves in position to win their opener Wednesday against Atlanta. However, the Dream broke open a tie game by beginning the fourth quarter on an 11-0 run.

Kia Nurse had 23 points, former Ace Dearica Hamby added 20 with 14 rebounds and Layshia Clarendon finished with 11 points, 10 rebounds and 10 assists for her first career triple-double, but Los Angeles shot 38.9 percent and went 13 of 22 from the free-throw line.

The 6-foot-4 Brink, drafted second overall last month, had 11 points, including two 3-pointers, four assists and a plus-8 plus/minus during her WNBA debut. However, she picked up two fouls in the game’s first three minutes and was limited to 20 minutes due to foul trouble.

“Cam has to find a way to stay out of foul trouble because she’s so important to what we’re doing,” Sparks coach Curt Miller said.

–Field Level Media

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