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A’ja Wilson bests Breanna Stewart in MVP battle as Aces even series

Wilson scored 33 points in the Aces' win Wednesday, while Stewart posted 32 points for the Storm. (Ethan Miller/Getty Images)

A’ja Wilson and Breanna Stewart put on a show during the WNBA semifinals Wednesday night, but Wilson came out on top.

The Las Vegas Aces star led her team to a 78-73 victory over Stewart and the Seattle Storm to level the series at 1-1.

The top MVP candidates both broke 30 points, marking the third time in WNBA playoff history that two opposing players logged 30-point showings.

“Obviously a couple of individual great performances by the two best players in the league,” Aces coach Becky Hammon said of Wilson and Stewart after the game.

Still, while she applauded both, she knows who she wants to win the WNBA’s top individual honor.

“We think we have the MVP, and she played that way,” Hammon said.

Wilson led Las Vegas with 33 points, 13 rebounds and three blocks, rebounding after she was held to eight points in Game 1. Chelsea Gray added 19 points, seven assists and seven rebounds.

Stewart’s stat line also was impressive, as she notched 32 points, seven rebounds, three assists and three blocks to keep the Storm in the game. But the 28-year-old was just one of two Storm players, including Tina Charles, to finish in double figures. Jewell Loyd, who was clutch for Seattle in Game 1, was held to just eight points Wednesday.

“I think matching up against A’ja, you’ve got to respect everything she has done and what’s she capable of,” Stewart said. “It’s just a battle. It’s what motivates you, what keeps you going, what makes you want to be better. It’s competitive.”

Wilson also embraced the burgeoning MVP rivalry with Stewart, saying it brings eyeballs to the series and the sport.

“That’s what grows the game,” Wilson said. “Everyone loves a good matchup. Everyone loves to be like, ‘Oh, what’s going to happen here?’ I think that’s what draws fans and attention to us.”

The semifinal series returns to Seattle for Game 3 on Sunday and Game 4 on Tuesday.