Las Vegas Aces handle Los Angeles Sparks 83-70 in season opener
The Las Vegas Aces had no trouble down the stretch keeping the Los Angeles Sparks at bay in an 83-70 win at Mandalay Bay Events Center Sunday night. Led by four players in double digits, the Aces outperformed the Sparks for three quarters. Both teams were without key players.
Los Angeles Sparks forward Candace Parker traveled with the team but did not play due to a left hamstring injury she suffered during a preseason contest. Las Vegas’ prized trade from Dallas, center Liz Cambage, just recently arrived in town from Australia and the team cited an Achilles issues as the reason for her absence on the floor.
The teams were neck and neck for much of the first quarter until the Aces began to pull away in the last three minutes, going on an 8-4 run to enter the second quarter with a 27-23 lead.
The Aces began the second stanza on a 7-0 run and outscored the Sparks 18-8 in the period going into halftime leading 45-31. Las Vegas held their scoring edge in the third quarter to enter the last ten minutes with a 65-49 advantage. While Los Angeles outscored Las Vegas 21-18 in the fourth period, it was not nearly enough to overcome their deficit.
Second-year forward A’ja Wilson led the Aces with a double-double of 21 points and 11 rebounds. Forward Kayla McBride added 20 points plus seven rebounds and forward Dearica Hamby came off the bench for a double-double with 12 points and 14 rebounds. Starting guard Kelsey Plum was also in double digits with 11 points plus six assists.
“I told our players at the start of training camp that I wanted our bench to change the complexion of the game, that’s what great teams do and they did that tonight,” Aces head coach Bill Laimbeer said. “Our bench pushes the league, wonderful. That’s what happened to night, Dearica was a big part of that and so was [Sydney] Colson. Their numbers don’t look great individually, but overall collectively, phenomenal.”
Sparks center Maria Vadeeva led her team with 24 points plus five rebounds. Forward Nneka Ogumike added a double-double of 17 points and 11 rebounds.
The Aces outrebounded the Sparks 45-40. Las Vegas shot 41.9% from the field compared to 36.4% by the Sparks. Las Vegas also outperformed the visitors from the line making 77.3% (17-22) of their free throws compared to 69.2% (9-13) by Los Angeles.
Las Vegas travels to Phoenix to play the Mercury on Friday evening.
“We’ve only won one game, we’re on the road to play Phoenix a tough team,” Laimbeer said. “I’ll take the effort. If we put forth the effort offensively and defensively with the intensity that we put out there tonight we’ll be okay then the talent takes over. We didn’t get rattled at any point during the game.”
The Sparks return home for their home opener against the Connecticut Sun on the same day.
|Los Angeles||Las Vegas|
|11||Points off Turnovers||6|
|34||Points in the Paint||30|
|8 (3/11)||2nd Chance Points||14 (5/10)|
|9 (4/9)||Fastbreak Points||7 (3/6)|
|Lead Changes – 1|
|Times Tied – 1|