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Kelsey Plum comes off bench to spark Aces past Washington

Updated August 18, 2021 - 7:48 am

Reigning WNBA MVP A’ja Wilson campaigned for one of her Aces teammates to win an award after a 93-83 victory over the Washington Mystics on Tuesday night at Michelob Ultra Arena.

“KP for Sixth Woman of the Year,” said Wilson, referring to Kelsey Plum. “She’s playing at an all-time high right now. I’m loving to see how she’s just getting what she wants. … We see the extra work. A lot of people don’t see that, but it’s coming to light. She’s one of the hardest-working people I know.”

Plum scored 24 points on 8-for-13 shooting, including 3-for-4 from 3-point range. She scored 21 during a second half in which the Aces outscored the Mystics 52-34.

Business as usual for the 26-year-old guard, who is playing the best basketball of her career a year after tearing her Achilles tendon.

“I’m just trying to embrace my role,” said Plum, who is averaging a career-high 13.8 points while converting 39.4 percent of her 3-point attempts. “I don’t think you play for Sixth (Woman of the Year), but I think for me being a competitor, I’m definitely trying to show that I’m good at basketball. … If everything goes the way it goes and I just do my thing, it’ll all work out in the end.”

Plum’s play in the second-half helped the Aces (17-6) overcome yet another halftime deficit against the Mystics (8-12). In Sunday’s game against Washington, Las Vegas was out of sync defensively while covering the Mystics’ pick-and-roll sets.

But that wasn’t the issue Tuesday. Turnovers were.

The Aces committed 11 turnovers in the first half, mostly of the unforced variety. The Mystics attempted 12 more field goals, and their star, Tina Charles, scored 23 of her 30 points.

But Las Vegas rectified that issue in the second half and relied on its superior talent to overpower a smaller Washington squad.

Plum attacked in transition and either probed the paint for scores or swung the ball to maintain the offensive flow. Wilson and Liz Cambage feasted around the rim for easy baskets.

The Aces committed only three turnovers in the second half, and Plum hit a 3-pointer from the right wing in the final minute to ensure Las Vegas would sweep the series with Washington.

“There’s no question she’s the leading candidate for Sixth Woman of the Year — by far,” Aces coach Bill Laimbeer said. “She has games like this where she keeps us in the game and carries us. … She’s doing what she’s supposed to do.”

Wilson finished with 19 points, 14 rebounds, five assists and three blocks, and Cambage scored 15.

Contact reporter Sam Gordon at sgordon@reviewjournal.com. Follow @BySamGordon on Twitter.

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