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A’ja Wilson ‘on another planet’ as defending champion Aces sweep Sky

Jackie Young and A'ja Wilson celebrate during the Las Vegas Aces' first-round series against the Chicago Sky. (Ethan Miller/Getty Images)

A’ja Wilson was everything the Las Vegas Aces needed and more as the defending WNBA champions swept the Chicago Sky in the first round of the 2023 playoffs.

The Aces will make their fifth consecutive semifinals appearance thanks in no small part to Wilson. She set a playoff record for the franchise with 38 points in Sunday’s 92-70 win, breaking head coach Becky Hammon’s record. Wilson also had 16 rebounds, three steals and four blocks, making her the first player in any WNBA game – regular or postseason – with a 35/15/3/3 stat line.

She’s also just the second player in WNBA playoff history to have 35+ points without a 3-point attempt, joining Lisa Leslie, according to Across the Timeline.

To top it all off? Wilson played just 30 minutes. It was an MVP-level performance from the reigning league MVP.

“The way she approaches the game, her humility, her competitiveness, her fire and just the way she’s selfless, that’s something that I think is overlooked with superstars,” teammate Alysha Clark said.

The series-clinching win marked her third playoff game with at least 30 points and 10 rebounds, which is the most in WNBA history. Candace Parker, who is on the Aces’ bench with an injury, is the only other WNBA player to have done it at least twice.

“Our defense was where it needed to be, and A’ja Wilson was on another planet,” Hammon said. “She was spectacular on both ends.”

But if you ask Wilson, it was just another day doing what needed to be done.

“I just need to get the job done for my teammates because I owe that to them,” Wilson said.

To add to Wilson’s splendor Sunday, she scored as many points in the paint (24) as the entire Sky team. According to Elias Sports Bureau, it’s the second time Wilson has equaled or surpassed the opposing team’s paint scoring in a playoff game on her own. She’s the only player in the WNBA to have done it more than once in the postseason.

Wilson wasn’t the only Aces player to break one of Hammon’s franchise records Sunday. Chelsea Gray surpassed Hammon for the most career playoff assists with 118. The previous franchise record had been 114.