Their roster covered with scorers, the Las Vegas Aces are vowing to turn their attention to defense.
There’s a good chance that focus has only intensified after Las Vegas ate its first loss of the WNBA season Tuesday night in Washington, allowing 89 points to the high-powered Mystics.
The Aces will try to bounce back Friday night when they visit the Atlanta Dream, who have some faces that Las Vegas fans might recognize.
Atlanta is off to a 2-0 start under first-year head coach Tanisha Wright following a 77-75 home-court win Wednesday night over the Los Angeles Sparks. Wright was an assistant coach in Las Vegas and was hired to coach the Dream by general manager Dan Padover, who made the leap from the Aces to the Atlanta last season.
The Dream are reaping immediate returns from the No. 1 overall pick in the WNBA draft last month. Rhyne Howard pumped in five 3-pointers against Los Angeles, finishing with 21 points and eight rebounds.
“At the end of the day, it’s not just about me,” Howard said, per the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “I take it and feed my energy into my teammates. I would run through a wall for them.”
Atlanta didn’t score a point over the game’s last 3:07 but got a stop it needed on the last possession of the game. The Dream limited Los Angeles to 34.7 percent shooting from the field.
Meanwhile, Las Vegas (2-1) blew a 15-point second quarter lead against the Mystics, ending up on the short side of two huge second-half runs in Washington in the 89-76 defeat. The Aces took a 49-36 cushion to halftime but gave up a 22-5 run to open the third quarter, then fell out of contention when the Mystics had a 14-4 spurt to begin the fourth.
Jackie Young scored 19 points to lead four Las Vegas players in double figures, but first-year coach Becky Hammon was likely more focused on the way that the Aces allowed 53 second-half points.
“We’re just trying to keep the ball in front of us, protect the paint,” said Hammon, who spent seven years as an assistant with the San Antonio Spurs. “It’s going to be a team effort for us. We’re a little on the small side, especially when we’re banged up right now.”
–Field Level Media