After a scoreless third quarter for A’ja Wilson, Las Vegas coach Bill Laimbeer voiced his displeasure by saying she wasn’t being competitive enough.
Wilson made amends in the fourth quarter, scoring 12 points and finishing with 26 points and 11 rebounds to help the Aces to their third straight win, 86-82 over Los Angeles, on Friday at IMG Academy in Bradenton, Florida.
“It just really ticked me off to the point that I’m like, ‘OK, now I’ve got to prove you wrong,’” Wilson said. “I get what they’re doing. I really do. I understand it. You can call me a bunch of things, but don’t call me uncompetitive because I want to be there for my team. And that’s what happened.”
Angel McCoughtry added 24 points, eight rebounds, five assists and three steals for the Aces (4-2). Candice Parker finished with 20 points and 12 rebounds for Los Angeles, while teammate Sydney Wiese scored 18 points, the most she’s had in a game since May 19, 2017, when she had 22 in the second game of her career.
1. Wilson stepping out
While Wilson, who will turn 24 on Saturday, already has established herself as one of the league’s top players, she’s always looking to add to her game.
As a rookie, she was aggressive taking the ball to the basket. Last year, she shot more midrange jumpers. This year, she’s combined the two, and has started to step out further for her shots.
“She’s really perfected the midrange shot and is extending that another 2 or 3 feet,” Laimbeer said. “She’s also learned how to create space for herself with a one-dribble step-back. She’s added pieces to her game, and there’s more to be had there, too.”
Wilson made a pair of jumpers from the top of the key, one just inside the 3-point line, during the Aces’ 10-2 run in the fourth quarter that put them ahead for good.
2. Young gets aggressive
For most of her short career with the Aces, Jackie Young has looked to pass first. She’s been asked to be more aggressive offensively — and she did that Friday.
Young scored 15 points on 7-for-12 shooting and helped the Aces close the game with a pair of driving pull-up jumpers in the lane in the final 2:02.
Young also shifted defensively to help slow down Wiese, who didn’t score after a layup 15 seconds into the second half.
3. Closing it out
In a shortened season, closing out games takes on added importance. The Aces blew the lead in a loss to Chicago in their opener, but they have managed to finish off opponents when they’ve had the chance since.
“Not only is it important to win the game, but it’s a confidence builder for some of our players like Jackie tonight,” Laimbeer said. “We have some people who can make shots, and that’s what carried us.”
The Aces will meet the New York Liberty at 2 p.m. Sunday.