Forget the Aces’ 93-87 victory against the Minnesota Lynx on Thursday at Michelob Ultra Arena. Forget their 5-1 record. Forget about winning on Bill Laimbeer Day, a celebration of the coach who brought the organization back to relevance.
Aces coach Becky Hammon isn’t happy.
“Our defense sucked,” she said.
Since beginning her first season as coach of the Aces, Hammon has set high expectations for her team, standards which go beyond wins and losses.
“We’re leaning on each other to get the job done,” Aces forward A’ja Wilson said. “We’re holding each other accountable. The expectations are there, it’s always been there for the Aces but right now we’re really trying to come together in the locker room to make sure we’re doing our job.”
Despite starting the game a perfect 9 for 9 from the field, poor defense and turnovers kept the game close Thursday. However, the play of some of the team’s stars like wing Jackie Young and point guard Chelsea Gray helped the Aces secure the win.
Young, Gray seal the deal
The Aces led by four points entering the final 10 minutes. Young and Gray made sure the Aces left with a win.
Young scored eight points in the fourth quarter and finished with a season-high 25 points. Wilson, who has scored 19 points or more in five of the Aces’ six games, held Lynx wing Kayla McBride scoreless.
“Jackie Young was, again, great on both ends of the ball,” Hammon said.
Gray added four points in the final 10 minutes. She scored 17 Thursday. The veteran point guard also had the final layup that put the game out of reach.
Minnesota exposes lack of size
Facing a four-time gold medalist like Sylvia Fowles is never an easy task. She might be playing her final season in the WNBA, but the two-time champion rolled back the clock to punish the Aces on Thursday night.
Fowles’ presence in the paint bothered the Aces all game. She finished with 20 points and 11 rebounds on 8-for-11 shooting as the Lynx (1-5) scored 40 points in the paint.
“We were just giving them too many opportunities,” Hammon said.
The Lynx won the rebounding battle 36-33. Fowles and forward Jessica Shepard combined for 25 rebounds. The Aces have been outrebounded in four consecutive games.
Fowles also caused problems for the Aces offense. Wilson was held to nine shots, but was efficient with her opportunities. But Fowles — the reigning WNBA defensive player of the year — made it difficult for Wilson to get to her spots.
Williams on injury report
Two games after making her season debut, guard Riquna Williams was ruled out with a left foot sprain.
Hammon said it’s a different left foot injury than the one which prevented Williams from playing in the first three games. She expects the veteran sharpshooter to miss three-to-four weeks.
“I’ll always err on the side of conservative and listen to the players, doctors and science of the injury,” Hammon said.
Williams had re-established herself as one of the Aces most reliable players in the second unit. She averaged nine points in 16 minutes and led the team in bench scoring during both games she played.
The Aces continue their homestand at noon Saturday when they host the Phoenix Mercury at Michelob Ultra Arena.