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Aces fire away from 3-point range in exhibition loss

If Sunday’s WNBA exhibition game against the Minnesota Lynx was any indication, the Aces won’t be bashful about launching 3-pointers this season under first-year coach Becky Hammon.

The Aces took 23 3-pointers in an 89-86 loss at the Target Center in Minneapolis. Since moving to Las Vegas, they had never attempted more than 23 in a regular-season game.

Hammon doesn’t expect the milestone to last long. Her prediction?

“Phoenix on Friday,” she said of the regular-season opener.

The Aces blew a 13-point lead, but in the three quarters Hammon played her starters, they were dominant.

Despite an off game from star forward A’ja Wilson, who scored 11 points on 2-for-8 shooting, the Aces built a double-figure lead behind strong outings from Kelsey Plum, Dearica Hamby and rookie second-round pick Aisha Sheppard, who combined for 43 points.

Guards Riquna Williams (right foot) and Chelsea Gray (left foot) didn’t play, but Las Vegas still played the perimeter game that Hammon promised during training camp. Rookies Kierstan Bell, Mya Hollingshed and Sheppard were heavily involved, hitting six of the Aces’ nine 3s.

The team wasted no time firing away, going 5 of 9 on 3s in the first quarter.

“Everybody has the green light,” Hammon said.

Plum was the main beneficiary of the spacing the rookies created, scoring 16 points. Hamby was also efficient, as she and Wilson took advantage of driving lanes to get to the free-throw line. Las Vegas shot 33 free throws.

Minnesota rallied when Hammon removed her starters for the fourth quarter, outscoring the Aces 30-14 in the final 10 minutes.

“For all the new stuff the coach has thrown at us, I thought we did a really good, collective job at locking in,” Plum said.

Contact reporter Andy Yamashita at ayamashita@reviewjournal.com. Follow @ANYamashita on Twitter.

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