Amid the stagnancy, the struggles, the lethargy, the turnovers, the Aces are figuring out ways to win basketball games.
No, the victories aren’t always picturesque. Far from it, actually. But victories are victories, nonetheless and after another one Wednesday morning, they sit atop the WNBA standings with a 10-5 record.
That’s right. The Aces have the best record in the WNBA.
Las Vegas, the preseason betting favorite, overcame another woeful offensive outing to steal a 74-71 victory over the Indiana Fever at Bankers Life Fieldhouse in Indianapolis. Las Vegas forward A’ja Wilson turned a broken play into the go-ahead layup with 15.1 seconds left, and made two free throws on the ensuing possession.
Teammate Liz Cambage had a game-high 19 points and six rebounds, and guards Kayla McBride and Kelsey Plum scored 14 ponts apiece for the Aces, who shot 36.5 percent from the field.
“We have a lot of work to do. We have a lot more growing,” Wilson said. “So we’re not even going to focus on (our record).”
The Aces opened their second season with a 2-3 mark, but have won eight of their last 10 games in a myriad of ways. Three of those eight victories were blowouts, while the other five were decided by eight points or fewer.
“Grinding out wins is what we’re trying to do right now,” Las Vegas coach Bill Laimbeer said. “Today was a hard fought game. We didn’t play well, but we got the win. That’s the sign of a good team.”
The Aces made 5 of 21 shots in the first quarter and struggled to a 38-35 halftime lead behind 11 first-half points from McBride. They followed the intermission by shooting 6 of 18 in the third quarter, and trailed 61-56 with 10 minutes to play.
But their top-ranked defense took over and held Indiana (6-10) to 10 fourth-quarter points on 4-of-17 shooting.
Cambage and Fever center Teaira McCowan traded layups in the final minute to tie the game at 70. The Aces set up a play during a timeout, McBride corralled an errant pass and delivered a pass to Wilson, who finished the layup to secure the league’s best record.
“It’s kind of crazy…It’s been a really long time since we’ve been in first place in anything,” McBride said. “We came in with a lot of expectations, but I feel like we’re really gelling as a team.
“I think that’s what really matters. That’s what’s going to carry us, and that’s what’s going to continue to push us to be the best we can be by the time the playoffs come.”