Aces center Liz Cambage on Sunday evening offered a succinct, candid evaluation of teammate A’ja Wilson’s play after a 100-85 road victory over the Chicago Sky.
“It looked like she took no time off and wasn’t out with any injury at all,” Cambage declared after Las Vegas clinched the franchise’s first playoff berth since 2014. “She came back very strong.”
Perhaps an understatement.
Wilson returned Sunday from a sprained left ankle and subsequent four-week absence to turn in one of her best performances of the season — logging 25 points on 7-of-14 shooting, eight rebounds and four blocks. She checked in as a reserve for the first time in her two-year WNBA career and played 26 minutes, showcasing the quickness and explosiveness that often accompany her greatness.
Even after missing eight full games.
“Really that’s the only thing I just wanted to go out and try to be the best teammate I can, especially off of injury,” said Wilson, who averages 15.9 points and 6.6 rebounds. “I know it’s kind of different to come in off the bench and re-create the chemistry with the team after missing time, but I just wanted to fit in and get things going for myself as well as my teammates.”
Wilson unveiled the bulk of her offensive arsenal against the Sky and did not show any lingering effects from the injury that kept her out of eight full games.
The 6-foot-4-inch power forward beat defenders off the dribble, sealed them in the post and made multiple midrange jumpers — all staples of her game.
She eclipsed 10 free-throw attempts for the second time this season, converting 11 of 13, and also showcased some chemistry with Cambage on different high-low sets in the Aces’ offense.
“That’s just something that’s been happening the whole season,” Cambage said. “We see each other better than the guards because we have that height advantage to pass it in or around players. It’s lob city with me and (Wilson). I could do that all day.”
Wilson started the second half, indicating a probable return to the starting lineup on Tuesday against the Phoenix Mercury. The Aces, now healthy, have seven games remaining in the regular season and plenty of time to optimize their offensive efficiency before the playoffs begin next month.
“(Wilson) came with something to prove to herself and everybody else that, OK, she’s out for a long time but she’s ready to go again,” Aces coach Bill Laimbeer said Sunday night. “If we have her and (Cambage) clicking like that and we get everybody else to tighten it up a little bit more, we’re going to be OK.”
Who: Phoenix Mercury at Aces
When: 7 p.m. Tuesday
Where: Mandalay Bay Events Center
TV: KVMY 12, Twitter
Radio: KWWN (1100 AM, 100.9 FM)
Tickets: Starting at $20 on axs.com
About the Aces (18-9): Liz Cambage averages 16.1 points and 8.3 rebounds, and Kayla McBride scores 14.7 per game. DearicaHamby also accounts for 11 points and 7.5 rebounds and is a leading candidate for Sixth Woman of the Year.
About the Mercury (13-13): Standout center Brittney Griner returns from a three-game suspension, and averages 19.4 points and7.0 rebounds. Frontcourt mate DeWanna Bonner is good for 18.8 points and 7.7 rebounds.