The Aces turned in their worst offensive performance of the season Tuesday, one featuring bricked shots, air balls and a 31.4 shooting percentage.
“They want to be a championship ballclub or compete for the championship, you’ve got to be much more mentally tougher than we are presently right now,” Las Vegas coach Bill Laimbeer said. “I’ll take the win. Lucky that we won. … But it’s clear that we have some mental toughness issues that we have to find, quickly.”
The Aces (6-4) didn’t practice Wednesday and play Thursday night at the Los Angeles Sparks, who are working through their own issues under first-year coach Derek Fisher.
Here are three things to watch as the Aces look to bounce back on the road.
1. Liz Cambage
The 6-foot-8-inch center was one of the few bright spots Tuesday, playing to a game-high plus-16 in 30 minutes. The Aces worked through her during several anemic offensive stretches, and she responded with a team-high 14 points on 5-of-12 shooting to go with 13 rebounds and three blocks.
She also got to the free-throw line six times and hit key baskets against a stout Seattle defense.
The Sparks don’t have a lot of size outside of 6-7 rookie center Kalani Brown, who didn’t play Sunday in a loss against the Phoenix Mercury. If she sits again, Cambage will have a considerable size advantage that might be worth exploiting.
She’s averaging 14.3 points and 7.4 rebounds.
2. 3-point shooting
The Aces are last in 3-point shots attempted per game (15.3) and second-to-last in makes (5.5). They ranked last in both statistics last year, too.
They shot 3 of 17 from 3-point range against the Storm. The Sparks (4-6) are fifth in the WNBA in makes per game (7.0) and fourth in attempts (20.9).
3. Team defense
Save for one bad outing last week against the Washington Mystics, Las Vegas has relied on its top-ranked defense to compete in every game. The Aces held the Storm to 30.4 percent shooting and rebounded 82 percent of their misses.
They still lead the league in defensive rating, allowing 88.8 points per 100 possessions, and are holding opponents to a league-low 37.7 percent shooting, including 28.5 percent on 3-pointers.
Who: Aces at Los Angeles Sparks
When: 7:30 p.m. Thursday
Where: Staples Center, Los Angeles
TV: CBSSN, SPTSN
About the Aces (6-4): They lead the Western Conference despite their inconsistencies. A’ja Wilson leads the team in scoring (15.4 ppg) and rebounding (7.7 rpg), and Kayla McBride averages 15.2 points.
About the Sparks (4-6): They’ve lost four straight and are struggling without second-year forward Maria Vadeeva, who is playing for her native Russia at EuroBasket. Nneka Ogwumike is averaging 14 points and 9.0 rebounds, and her sister, Chiney, averages 12.6 points and 6.9 rebounds. Candace Parker is back after missing seven games with a hamstring injury and is averaging 5.7 points.