Aces preach patience after loss in opener to Storm
A’ja Wilson scored 24 points on Saturday, but the Aces fell 97-83 to the Seattle Storm in their regular season opener in suburban Seattle.
Updated May 15, 2021 - 3:41 pm
Perhaps in time, the Aces will cultivate the kind of chemistry the Seattle Storm showcased on Saturday afternoon. The kind that creates open looks on the offensive end and stymies them on the defensive end.
That enveloped the Aces in the WNBA Finals last fall — and in a 97-83 loss in the season opener Saturday.
Just don’t put a timetable on when that might happen.
“I can’t say ‘Oh, by the first home game, we’ll be together,’ It’s just something that we have to feel. We have to go through,” said reigning WNBA MVP A’ja Wilson. “Within our locker room and our huddles, we have to come together and figure it out.”
The Aces couldn’t quite figure it out against the Storm on Saturday despite 24 points from Wilson and another 16 from All-Star center Liz Cambage in her first WNBA game since 2019.
Seattle was far too cohesive on both ends of the floor, embarking on a 32-10 run in the first and second quarters to seize a permanent sense of control of the first game of the regular season.
The Storm were efficient on offense and connected on defense, relying on movement and communication to generate — and deter — open shots on both ends of the floor.
The Aces looked like a new group playing their first game together, because, well, that’s exactly what they are.
“It’s about what I expected on our end. A little bit of confusion without knowing each other,” said Las Vegas coach Bill Laimbeer, explaining that it may take several games for the Aces to find their groove.
“It’s going to take time. … We’re a very good basketball team. It’s a matter of, how do we find our stride?”
The Aces practiced as a full team for the first time last week and are integrating several players who didn’t play against the Storm in last year’s WNBA Finals. Like Cambage, who opted out of the 2020 season amid the coronavirus pandemic and is still working into top condition as she re-acclimates to her new teammates. Or Kelsey Plum, who missed the 2020 season with an injured Achilles and is adjusting to a role as the first guard off the bench.
Free agent signees Chelsea Gray and Riquna Williams combined for nine points on 4-of-14 shooting in their team debuts as they, too, adjust to new roles.
But the defending WNBA champion Storm needed no such adjustments.
Reigning Finals MVP Breanna Stewart had 28 points and 13 rebounds. Teammate Jewell Loyd added 22 points amid slow rotations and defensive confusion from the Aces.
The two teams play again Tuesday night.
“We’re such a fresh group,” Cambage said. “It’s going to take us a minute. You don’t just win a championship like that. You don’t just have a team that walks in and wins. Seattle, their key group has been together for (years). You see the way they move the ball. … Their offense is on a string because they know their personnel. We’ll be there in a few games. We’ll get it like that.”
Contact reporter Sam Gordon at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow @BySamGordon on Twitter.