The Las Vegas Aces held a narrow lead at halftime of Game 1 in their WNBA semifinal series against the Dallas Wings. But for head coach Becky Hammon, that was not good enough.
As Aces star A’ja Wilson told it, Hammon “cussed us out at halftime,” which lit a fire under the defending champions. Las Vegas turned a four-point halftime lead into a 97-83 win, spurred by a 26-12 advantage in the third quarter. Wilson had 14 of those third-quarter points.
“I’d love to bottle that one up,” Hammon said of the third-quarter performance. “I tell them when they stink, and I tell them when they’re great. And they were great.”
Wilson has been a steady force for the Aces all year, and that has continued into the postseason. The 2022 WNBA MVP received her second consecutive Defensive Player of the Year award before Sunday’s contest, then recorded 34 points, 8 rebounds, 4 blocks and 2 steals.
“From the tip to the buzzer, she’s going to be flying everywhere and being active,” Aces guard Kelsey Plum said of Wilson. “That’s just who she is.”
Hammon added: “She loves the moment. That’s just something she’s born with. You can’t teach people to love the moment. She’s especially been on a roll the last month and a half; her stats are ridiculous.”
Hammon has tried to feed Wilson the ball more frequently as her team has moved deeper into the postseason. The team “didn’t get her the ball enough” against Chicago in Game 1, Hammon said, but since the team has done a better job of “getting her in space and letting her go to work.”
In addition to Wilson’s dominant showing, Plum had 25 points and five 3-pointers, while Jackie Young had a double-double with 19 points and 10 rebounds – nearing a triple-double with seven assists. Chelsea Gray added 13 points.
Playoff HER 👑Another 30+ piece for @_ajawilson22...in just 34 minutes 👏34 PTS // 8 REB // 2 STL // 4 BLK // 15-21 FG#RaiseTheStakes pic.twitter.com/Q30UcVbNnh— Las Vegas Aces (@LVAces) September 24, 2023
Playoff HER 👑Another 30+ piece for @_ajawilson22...in just 34 minutes 👏34 PTS // 8 REB // 2 STL // 4 BLK // 15-21 FG#RaiseTheStakes pic.twitter.com/Q30UcVbNnh