A’ja Wilson, Aces’ offense explodes in Becky Hammon’s first win

(Photo by Barry Gossage/NBAE via Getty Images)

Becky Hammon made her return to the WNBA on Friday, coaching the Las Vegas Aces to a 106-88 victory over the Phoenix Mercury.

“What made it really cool for me is I could feel their energy for me. I could feel how bad they wanted it for me,” Hammon said of the Aces’ season opener. “So that was probably the most special thing about it. They know there’s a spotlight, and eventually, I’ve gotta move out of it and they’ve gotta move into it. It’s about them. They’re the ones getting stops and buckets out there. I’m just there to help them.”

The team shot 58.2 percent from the field, including 11-of-21 from 3-point range. Kelsey Plum led the charge with five 3-pointers that powered her 20 point, seven assist and six rebound performance.

Dearica Hamby had a team-high 24 points while A’ja Wilson added 15 points and 11 rebounds. Jackie Young also had 20 points as the Aces largely overwhelmed a very good Phoenix Mercury team.

Still, Hammon gave her team’s overall performance a B grade.

“Schematically, defensively, I’d said we did it right about 80 percent of the time,” she said. “I’m a coach, I want it 100 percent of the time. I’ll stay on them. They all know, I’ve told them I’m going to coach them hard on that end of the floor. Offensively, I know their skills at times will just take over. There’s no need to get fancy; they can flat-out score the ball. I give them a lot of trust in that aspect.”

Skylar Diggins-Smith had 25 points for Phoenix, 12 of which came in the third quarter as the Mercury attempted to make a comeback. Shey Peddy had 16 points – 14 that came in the fourth – while Tina Charles added 15 points. Diana Taurasi contributed nine points and nine assists in the effort.

The Aces will host the Seattle Storm on Sunday in their home opener while Phoenix will look for their first win against the Storm on Wednesday.