Video Credit: WNBA

FSM Essential Recap: Aces vs. Sparks – Game 17

Franchise Sports Media

Las Vegas Aces (13-4) | Los Angeles Sparks (6-10)



Game 2 of the Los Angeles Sparks-Las Vegas Aces mini-series saw L.A. put forward a much better fight compared to the 24-point drubbing they took on Wednesday. Still, Vegas came away with a 66-58 win to improve their record to 13-4.




Aces vs Sparks
Photo Credit: Las Vegas Aces

Chelsea Gray, who was relatively quiet in her return to L.A. on Wednesday night, drilled a free throw line jumper on the Aces’ first possession for the game’s opening two points. Te’a Cooper responded with five points of her own to get the Sparks’ offense in sync after Liz Cambage knocked down a spot-up three-pointer from the wing. The pace of the early part of this game played out slowly, and both teams played solid half-court defense; it picked up, though, when Gray hit another pull-up jumper, and Lauren Cox drained consecutive mid-range jumpers.

On the other end, Nia Coffey swatted away a Kelsey Plum floater in the paint, which led to a Bria Holmes transition layup — arguably the highlight-play of the opening quarter. The Aces took a 17-15 lead into the second quarter.

Fresh off of a 22-point outing on Wednesday, Amanda Zahui B. scored five quick points to give the Sparks a 20-19 lead. That L.A. lead was quickly erased after Plum drove the right side of the rim for a reverse layup, which she followed up moments later with a steal and score. But the Sparks answered as Erica Wheeler sunk a three to retake the lead from the Aces. The momentum and score swung back and forth for much of the quarter until Las Vegas put together an 8-0 run down the stretch of the second quarter. Te’a Cooper’s layup with 38.7 seconds remaining ended the Aces’ run and cut the Sparks deficit to eight points after two quarters.

Aces vs Sparks
Photo Credit: Los Angeles Sparks

The Aces’ half-time lead grew to double digits early in the quarter behind some excellent shotmaking from Liz Cambage, Jackie Young, and Chelsea Gray. Neither team could find the touch over the following few minutes of play, which created a suddenly low-scoring affair. Zahui B. canned a wing three, and then Erica Wheeler went on a scoring spurt to give L.A. some life at the end of the quarter. Yet, Vegas held a 51-44 lead at the end of the third frame. 

Los Angeles got the Aces sped up and out of sorts, cutting their deficit down to as little as four points at one moment in the early fourth quarter. Cooper then banked in a three-pointer, and Erica Wheeler found Zahui B. under the rim for a layup, bringing the score to 54-53 before Bill Laimbeer called for time.

The Aces saw their lead completely slip away as they went scoreless for nearly five minutes of play, but a Chelsea Gray jumper and two A’ja Wilson free throws put Vegas back up by two. Riquna Williams buried a corner three just moments later, and the Aces suddenly found themselves back in control and up by five points. The Sparks ran out of gas after mounting that valiant fourth-quarter comeback attempt and watched the Aces close the game on a 12-2 run. Vegas escaped L.A. with a 66-58 win.



Star Power – The Aces struggled for the majority of the game and were in danger of suffering a bad loss to an injury-hit Sparks team, but they received some superstar moments from their superstar players down the stretch of the game. Chelsea Gray delivered some big-time shots during crunch time while A’ja Wilson took over the game on the defensive end. “Chelsea Gray made big plays. That’s why we got her,” said Aces coach Bill Laimbeer after the win. “A’ja Wilson made big defensive plays.”



Three-Point Shooting – The three-point shooting of the Aces was commendable on Wednesday night against the Sparks but was woeful this time around. Vegas shot just 2 for 11 and failed to take advantage of the double-teaming and suffocating post defense that Los Angeles put forth. Funny enough, the shot that put the nail in the coffin was a Riquna Williams corner three. 

Ball Movement – The ball was clearly not hopping around the court in the way that it did on Wednesday when the Aces registered 27 assists. 27 was unlikely to happen again, but the 11 total assists were a season-low and a direct representation of the team’s lack of ball movement in the half-court setting.


The Aces return to Michelob Ultra Arena on Sunday for a 4th of July showdown with the Atlanta Dream. Tune into NBATV at 3:00 p.m. to follow the action live, and remember to check back for the next recap.

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-Cole Huff– Franchise Sports Media

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