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Las Vegas Aces eye offensive improvement in Los Angeles

Updated June 26, 2019 - 7:57 pm

The Aces turned in their worst offensive performance of the season Tuesday, one featuring bricked shots, air balls and a 31.4 shooting percentage.

Yet they still defeated the defending WNBA champion Seattle Storm, 60-56.

“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.

More Aces: Follow at reviewjournal.com/aces and @RJ_Sports on Twitter.

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

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