The Morning After: Aces vs. Mercury

A recap of the game between the Las Vegas Aces and the Phoenix Mercury on July 19, 2018.

Las Vegas Aces vs. Phoenix Mercury (Aces won, 85-82).

The Las Vegas Aces have fallen to the Phoenix Mercury in their previous two meetings (June 10 and June 17); the third time's the charm as the Aces ground out a win in a tight game against a quality team that is still feeling the loss of Sancho Lyttle for the season due to injury. The Aces and Mercury will have a final game this season on August 1 in Las Vegas.

All The Stars

The results of the 2018 All-Star voting are in: Kayla McBride and A’Ja Wilson will be representing the Las Vegas Aces and DeWanna Bonner, Brittney Griner, and Diana Taurasi will be in effect for the Phoenix Mercury. All five players will be part of the team captained by Elena Delle Donne of the Washington Mystics.

At the Playground

The first quarter of the game was like a seesaw, with each team trading buckets. There were 11 lead changes and 6 ties just in that quarter. Credit Las Vegas for its strong defense to open the game.

Brick City

Also early in the first quarter, neither team seemed to be able to buy a basket until A’Ja Wilson finally got a layup less than 2 minutes into the game. Shots kept clanging off the rim or popping out of the basket, even the shots that had good looks.

Double Trouble

The Aces managed to contain Phoenix's Brittney Griner (19 points, 10 rebounds, 2 assists) and hold her to only 19 points and getting her called for 4 fouls. They did so by double- (and occasionally triple-) teaming her around the rim so that she couldn't get a clear shot. Veteran Carolyn Swords was a key matchup against Griner, which made sense since rookie Ji-Su Park still has a ways to go before she can defend Griner (and other elite bigs) adequately. Still, Griner managed to tie Tammy Sutton-Brown for 6th on the WNBA all-time blocks list and became the Mercury’s all-time leader in career double-doubles (tonight was her 34th).

Solid As A Rock

Wilson (18 points, 12 rebounds, 2 assists, 1 steal) didn’t play as many minutes as usual, getting decent rests on the bench despite not being in serious foul trouble (she had 3). This forced the rest of the team to step up, and it worked; players were able to keep Phoenix off guard as well as get them into team foul trouble. It also bodes well as Wilson will need to be as fresh as possible should Las Vegas sneak into the playoffs. Of course, as long as veteran McBuckets McBride (27 points, 3 rebounds, 3 assists, 4 steals, one 3-pointer) is active, the team didn't have to worry that much.

Always On Time

Veteran Tamera Young (10 points, 5 rebounds, 1 assist) did what she normally does and kept the offense moving for Las Vegas. Though she started the game with some ill-advised shots, she got into her rhythm and played floor general at key points down the stretch. #YoungieSZN

Uptown Funk

Diana Taurasi scored a season-high 33 points to go with her 5 rebounds, 6 assists, and four 3-pointers. #GOATSZN

Thieves in the Night

Las Vegas had 12 steals in the game, compared to Phoenix's 4. Kelsey Plum (8 points, 1 rebound, 1 assist, two 3-pointers) and McBride led the team in seals with 4 apiece.

B-Sides

The Aces only had 10 turnovers in the entire game (they average 16); while the Mercury had 15.  Las Vegas scored 25 points off Phoenix's turnovers. Progress!

Helping Hands

Phoenix had twice as many assists as Las Vegas, 16 to 8. That’s to be expected in such a veteran team, though the shots just weren’t falling for the Mercury.

Up Next

The Mercury host conference rivals the Minnesota Lynx on Saturday, July 21.

The Aces host the Indiana Fever on Sunday, July 22.

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