Updated August 13, 2020 - 9:50 pm
After Aces guard Jackie Young went scoreless against Washington five games ago, teammate A’ja Wilson gave her the nickname “Doughnut.”
Ever since, the Aces’ second-year guard has been a different player.
Young scored 16 points, her fourth straight with 15 or more, and Wilson had another MVP-caliber showing with 23 points and eight rebounds to help Las Vegas to its sixth straight win, 87-77 over the Minnesota Lynx on Thursday at IMG Academy in Bradenton, Florida.
“She’s showing why she was a No. 1 pick. She does everything for us, and she makes sure she can attack,” Wilson said. “That’s a person getting into her groove, and I’m so proud of Jackie. This is night and day from last year to this year.”
Angel McCoughtry scored 12 of her 21 points in the first quarter, her second straight game with 20-plus points.
The win puts the Aces (7-2) in sole possession of second place in the WNBA standings, a game behind the Seattle Storm.
Napheesa Collier led Minnesota with 21 points and 14 rebounds.
Here’s three takeaways from the win:
Fowles goes down
Minnesota’s hopes took a huge hit 1:23 into the game when center Sylvia Fowles aggravated a calf injury and didn’t return.
Fowles had missed two games with the injury, but had played in two since sustaining it and was in the MVP conversation as the WNBA’s leading rebounder with 11.3 per game while averaging 16.7 points.
“I hate to see someone like Sylvia Fowles go down so early in the game,” Wilson said. “She doesn’t get talked about in our league as she should. She’s a future Hall of Famer, and to see her go down really hurt my heart.”
Aces do it with defense
The Aces are one of the league’s top defensive teams, and they showed it again. They limited Minnesota to 43.9 percent shooting, including 7 of 22 (31.8 percent) from 3-point range.
They also set a season high in blocked shots with six, and their 11 steals tied their previous best and led to easy transition baskets.
“We’re so balanced on offense that when we’re our defense is controlling the game, controlling the pace, controlling the tempo, that’s when we’re at our best,” said guard Kayla McBride, who had five steals that helped lead to 17 points. “When we’re playing defense and we’re locked in, it enables us to have energy and momentum, and it carries us through the game.”
Allen quietly gets it done
With everybody scoring and making big plays around her, Lindsay Allen doesn’t get much recognition. But she is an integral part of Las Vegas’ offense as a distributor, and she showed that again with seven assists and no turnovers.
“That’s why she’s in the starting lineup,” Aces coach Bill Laimbeer said. “I don’t need a scorer. I have Angel, A’ja and McBride out there. I need somebody to get us into sets and call plays for our scorers. She’ll do that.”
The Aces will meet Washington for the second time this season at 9 a.m. Saturday. Las Vegas won the first meeting 83-77 on Aug. 5.