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Aces 113, Lynx 89: Win Streak Ends in Blowout to WNBA’s Best

Kelsey Plum’s career-high 40 points led a loaded Aces squad over the Lynx to end Minnesota’s five-game winning streak.

Las Vegas Aces v Minnesota Lynx Photo by David Sherman/NBAE via Getty Images

Entering Sunday winners of five straight and eight of their last 10, the Minnesota Lynx knew they would have a tough task of extending that streak while welcoming the WNBA-leading Las Vegas Aces into Target Center.

Minnesota, one of the hottest teams in the league as of late, was overpowered by the balance and star-studded lineup the top team in the WNBA possesses, resulting in a 113-89 blowout loss to the Aces to see the win streak come to a halt.

From the opening tip, Las Vegas controlled the game while jumping out to a double-digit lead in the first quarter while giving up the lead for the remainder of the contest. Minnesota managed to narrow the game to within single digits in the third quarter, only to see the Aces answer immediately and even lead by as much as 24 points at one point.

“Just look at our box score on the bottom or where we are. We shoot 50%, 56% from three. They didn’t make many free throws, 14 turnovers which, you know, for us [is] solid. Then you go, ‘It’s probably a pretty good game for us, right?’ But there’s the other part of the box score,” Cheryl Reeve said after the game. “The Aces were 141 offensive rating tonight. We were 111, they were 141. ... I was hoping for a little more resistance than what we got.”

With the loss, Minnesota dropped to 9-10 on the season but remain as the seventh seed in the standings. Las Vegas, the clear title favorite in the WNBA right now, improved to an impressive mark of 17-2 on the year with the win.

What Went Right

Although the game resulted in a blowout loss, the Lynx did show some flashes of bright spots on both ends of the floor against a superior opponent.

Minnesota displayed nice balance in the contest, with four of five Lynx starters finishing in double figures in scoring. Napheesa Collier led the way with 18 points and five rebounds, Diamond Miller had a strong first half despite dealing with early foul trouble to finish with 15 points, four rebounds and three assists, Kayla McBride added 11 points and Lindsay Allen tallied 10 points and five assists.

To counter the starters, the Lynx bench — which outscored the Aces bench 31-23 — shined at points as well, much like we say in the last few games of the winning streak. Nina Milic led all bench players with 14 points, five boards and two steals, followed by Rachel Banham with 10 points and seven assists and Bridget Carleton with seven points and five rebounds. The recent success of Minnesota’s second unit has been key in either holding onto leads or providing a spark when the starters need a rest.

“Nina, Rachel and BC, just like we saw in the Phoenix game, they came in and helped us. They’ve been pretty darn solid for us this season and again today,” Reeve said. “It’s what they’ve been doing any I’m happy they were able to get that done today.”

Even though the Lynx gave up over 100 points and allowed Las Vegas to shoot nearly 60 % from the field, Minnesota’s defense did do a nice job in turning the Aces over and turning that into offense on the other end. The Lynx forced the Aces into 11 turnovers, resulting in 23 points offensively.

What Went Wrong

Although the Lynx were able to turn the ball over a good amount against the Aces, that’s about all Minnesota could stop against a team that dropped their third-highest point total in franchise history. Las Vegas did just about anything it wanted to during the win, shooting 59.7% from the field while connecting on 17 threes. To counter, Minnesota shot 50% from the field with nine threes.

“I think firstly, as a team, we just need to play harder. I think Vegas did whatever they wanted tonight and they got pretty much everything they wanted. They’re really good, they’re All-Stars for a reason because they can make buckets, they don’t miss a lot,” Miller said. “Kelsey Plum, 14-for-18, that’s pretty crazy, but congrats to her, well earned. I think we just got to do a better job of defending our home court.”

Similar to what took place in the first meeting between these two teams on May 28 in Vegas, the Aces guard play spearheaded by Kelsey Plum and Chelsea Gray had their way with the Lynx guards while owning that battle on the perimeter. Plum dropped a career-high 40 points with six threes and Gray added a double-double of 14 points and 10 assists in the contest. Along with that, A’ja Wilson posted a double-double of 15 points, 10 boards, four blocks, three steals and three assists for Vegas.

“We tried something different (defensively) than we did in Vegas. I think we had all perimeter players that guarded Plum at one point,” Reeve said. “There’s good players at every position and mentally we get into this ‘my man’ thing. Our team defense was just really lacking. Plum made everything ... We just weren’t there for each other.”

Although defense in general was an area of focus for the Lynx entering the game, Minnesota also wanted to control the boards as it has been able to often this year with the fifth-best rebound average in the WNBA. The Lynx weren’t able to accomplish that Sunday, but that might be credited to Las Vegas shooting the lights out and not giving Minnesota any opportunities to clean up the boards.

“If they missed some shots, we would get more rebounds,” Reeve said. “So don’t hold that against us tonight. ... There weren’t a whole lot of rebounds to be had.”

Next Up

The Lynx remain home for their final game of a four-game homestand on Wednesday when the Dallas Wings come to town for Minnesota’s annual camp day game at Target Center. The game between the Lynx and Dallas Wings will tip off at 12 PM CT on Bally Sports North.

“I think we just got to look forward, we don’t have a lot of time to look back and we already have a next game and we just have to focus on the next game,” Milic said. “We had really good flow in the previous games and I think tonight our defense wasn’t on the high level as we had in those previous games. We can do it, we had it. We just have to look forward and get back on track. That’s all we can do right now.”

Game Highlights