A’ja Wilson and Aces deal with Sun, walk away from WNBA title


Las Vegas – Aja Wilson has been a star here all this week in the WNBA Finals. She has appeared on huge video billboards on the Las Vegas Strip and has been the focus of media attention every single day. Every quarter inside the Michelob Ultra Arena, which sold out again on Tuesday with an announcement of 10.211 – it sang along to chants of “MVP!”

Wilson’s playing during the regular season has earned her the league’s best player and best defensive player. Somehow, the postseason play was better.

Wilson led the Aces to an 85-71 win over the Connecticut Sun in Game Two of the Best of Five Finals, scoring 26 points to spend with 10 rebounds and a block. The victory gave Las Vegas a 2-0 lead in a best of five streak. Game three is Thursday in Connecticut.

Wilson has scored over 24 points and over 10 rebounds in the past five games.

Aces protector Kelsey Bloom said: “I felt like she was the most consistent player of the night, she came out both offensive and defensive night in this league which is why she is the best player.” “It’s great. A lot of times when we watch greatness, we don’t appreciate it in live time. Like we have to wait for someone to finish playing. But it’s totally fun for basketball fans watching to see what you’re doing.”

Aja Wilson already has a statue. Now she needs a ring.

Wilson set the tone from the start. She scored eight of her team’s first 14 points and earned 18 points in the first half.

After the Aces held a season low of 67 points in game 1The team that scored #1 in the league wasn’t about to repeat that performance. Las Vegas Paint attacked with Wilson in the last or Bloom driving to the basket.

And when possessions got ugly, base guard Chelsea Gray entered her bag of tricks with unbalanced mid-range jumpers. Gray was defeated while making a triple pointer, a sequence that gave the Aces an 80-60 lead.

Plame rebounded from a six-point performance in the first game with 20 on Tuesday and Gray added 21 points.

“I told her she needed to get it together,” Wilson said, describing their discussion between Game One and Game Two. “At the end of the day, that’s what she has to do. Make sure she understands I need her to shoot the shots, I know it sounds tough, but KP is a professional and she went in and took care of the business. I think she understands that we believe in her.”

“I have ways of talking to my teammates to make them understand where I need to be and where we need to be. Yes, I fired her.”

Bloom said she spoke to her psychiatrist about her game being discontinued, and she had several other people who tried to help her work through it. It all came to fruition on Thursday.

“A lot of times I find it hard to handle myself and I feel like I was a little disappointed with my performance during the whole qualifying,” Bloom said. “I’m glad they picked it up and decided to join the party.”

The sun simply did not have the offensive firepower to keep up with the speed. Last season’s MVP Junkel Jones had her moments, but her 16 points couldn’t make up for Wilson’s performance. Alyssa Thomas, who finished fourth in the MVP vote, scored 13 points, three rebounds and four assists. Courtney Williams had 18 points, but the Sun only fired 42.2 percent from the field compared to 51.6 in the Aces. Breonna Jones, the sixth player in the NBA, scored 10 points and six rebounds.

The Sun never got ahead after taking a two-point lead early in the first quarter and overpowering 46-28 in the paint.

Similar to Sunday’s opener, the Aces came out quickly, taking a 23-15 lead after the first quarter. In Game 1, aces advance 25-17.

Sun coach Curt Miller stressed the need to create better shots and that was the case early Tuesday as his team found some success sending the cutters into the basket. But the aces began to increase their defensive power in the middle of the quarter. This is when he started running. Las Vegas closed the quarter off at 9-1 with pullover jumpers from Gray and Riquana Williams and a triple pointer from the top of the arch from Jackie Young. That stretch was pushed to 13-1 in the second quarter to bring in 12 points.

The Sun shot just 35 percent in that first quarter, but Jones got aggressive and Connecticut put in a pair of runs, including a 12-6 stretch to close out the quarter and keep the score at a manageable 45-37 in the first half.

Coach Aces Becky Hammon was critical of her team’s ball movement in the first game, when Las Vegas provided just nine assists. The Aces were 11 by the break on Tuesday.

But Connecticut started the second half quickly, using 9-2 in the first half to narrow the gap to 49-46. That would be as close as the sun could get.

“It starts from the defensive end, our defense is bad.” Hammon said about her message to the team after that stretch. “They came out and it didn’t suck. It was them. They know what they’re supposed to do, and it’s my job to remind them what they’re supposed to do. And you know, at the end of the day, they have to go out and do it, and they do.”

“I didn’t like what we were doing so aggressively. I thought it was getting really stagnant in this thing, so I wanted to make the ball pop a little bit more. It was kind of two-pronged.”

It was a terrifying moment for the Aces in the middle of the third quarter when Gray went down with what appeared to be an ankle injury. She wasn’t able to get back into defense, but scored a jump in the paint when the ball came back down. Gray then exited the game and headed to the locker room. Three minutes into the quarter, Gray returned, still limping, and completed a three-point play after a foul. The three points capped 14-5 as Las Vegas seized control again and pushed the lead to 63-51.

“You can’t think of the big picture,” Miller said of approaching the elimination game. “It gets frustrating and stressful and feels, at times, bigger. It’s just too big. So you have to dig into it and we’ll get back to work as we get ready for Game 3. And all we’re talking about is Game 3, and in particular, all we’re going to talk about is the quarter First, this is our approach.

“If you start thinking that we have to win three in a row, we have to do this kind of thing, it becomes big. So we will talk about Game 3 and only Game 3 and we will be ready for that first quarter.”


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