WNBA

Aces fall in WNBA Finals rematch vs. Liberty, match loss total from 2023 season

Aces fall in WNBA Finals rematch vs. Liberty, match loss total from 2023 season

This year's Las Vegas Aces team isn't quite performing like last year's championship squad. That was apparent in Saturday's game against the New York Liberty.

Behind a career-high 34 points from Jonquel Jones, the Liberty defeated the Aces 90-82 in a rematch of the 2023 WNBA Finals. The loss pushed the Aces' record down to 6-6, which means they have now lost as many games as their 34-6 squad last season.

It's not like the game was uncompetitive, as Las Vegas was only down 45-43 at halftime and took a six-point lead at one moment in the third quarter. Unfortunately, that was followed by a 14-0 New York run to take control for the rest of the game.

Behind Jones, who got her 34 on an hyper-efficient 12-of-16 shooting, were Sabrina Ionescu with 15 points and a season-high 12 assists and Breanna Stewart with 14 points and 12 rebounds. Kelsey Plum led the Aces side with 22 points, while A'ja Wilson had 21 points and nine rebounds, snapping a WNBA-record streak of eight straight games with at least 25 points.

It goes without saying it's been a rough start for the Aces, who entered this season as the clear WNBA title favorite. Much of those problems are attributable to the lack of starting point guard Chelsea Gray, who still has yet to make her season debut due to a foot injury. She's supposedly nearing a return and the Aces will undoubtedly be happier when she's back on the court.

The Aces' problems might go beyond Gray, though. They largely have the same personnel as last year — the biggest exception being the retired Candace Parker, who only played half the regular season — but they've had a defense that led the WNBA in defensive rating last year slip to ninth entering Saturday. Their offense is still elite, but they've now lost five of their last seven.

Wilson confronted those struggles after the game, tearfully discussing what accountability on a team like the Aces means to her. The whole thing was an impressive show of leadership:

Wilson's answer:

"I put myself out there on the front … it's hard. It's really, really hard, but I live my teammates so much I will take any hit from them, good, bad, ugly. I'm going to go out there and try to be the best — I get y'all saying the best player in the world and that sounds great and looks great — but I want to be the best person, the best teammate, because that's how I get the best out of my teammates."

While the Aces have struggled, it's not because Wilson has taken a step back. She's currently averaging a career-high 28.6 points and 11.5 rebounds per game and remains a top candidate for her third WNBA MVP award.

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