The once-mighty Los Angeles Sparks played the Las Vegas Aces to an 85-85 tie during the preseason – but this isn’t the preseason. The Aces throttled the Sparks at Michelob Ultra Arena 97-69 in Las Vegas on Friday night.
The Las Vegas Aces (2-1) home opener against the Sparks (0-2) was the team’s first home game in over 600 days. After splitting an opening series with the WNBA Championship Seattle Storm, the Aces gelled and gelled fast in the rout against LA.
Las Vegas is off to a fast start with four players averaging in double digits through three games. Bill Laimbeer’s Las Vegas Aces squad is led by 2020 WNBA MVP A’ja Wilson averaging 21 points, 16 rebounds, and nine assists. Liz Cambage, Jackie Young, and Kelsey Plum have also proven to be formidable offensive weapons with 17, 16, and 10 points per game each, respectively. Veteran Aces forward and 2015 first-round pick Dearica Hamby continues to make her presence felt with 15 rebounds through two games.
While the Las Vegas Aces had their hands full in Seattle with Sue Bird and Brianna Stewart, Friday they had an equally daunting task containing the Ogwumike sisters and decorated WNBA champion Kristi Toliver in her second stint with the Sparks. and is currently their franchise leader in three-point field goal and free-throw percentage.
The Sparks would win the tip and set the pace in the first quarter and kept it a relatively close affair with both teams trading baskets eary. But that didn’t last long as the deeper and more talented Aces would clamp down on defense as they gave themselves a fairly comfortable five-point lead heading into the second quarter.
That was really as close as it would be as the Las Vegas Aces entered halftime with a 20-point lead at 56-36 and never looked back
While starters Wilson and Young would combine for 22 points in the first half, Hamby contributed 13 off the bench on 5-of-9 from the field and six defensive rebounds. Liz Cambage also had strong first half as she imposed her will in the post and on the boards with seven.
A tense moment at the 9:48 mark of the third quarter when Cambage collided with Nneka Ogwumike, resulting in an Aces offensive foul. Cambage, who missed last season due to an injury, returned to the court seemingly unaffected.
With an overwhelming performance on all fronts, the Aces demonstrate the type of league dominance that both opposing teams and fans alike have become accustomed to. Hard-cutting, fast-paced offense on one end of the floor is complimented with hard-earned rebounds and smothering defense on the other, and as a team that is no stranger to deep postseason runs, the basketball IQ is on full display even early in the season.