LAS VEGAS (May 23, 2023) – The 2022 WNBA Champion Las Vegas Aces (1-0, 1-0) continue their title defense against the Los Angeles Sparks (1-0, 1-0) on Thursday at 7 pm PT. The game—the first of back-to-back contests between the Aces and Sparks—will be broadcast on Silver State Sports & Entertainment Network.
In the offseason, the Aces added two-time MVP and two-time WNBA Champion Candace Parker, two-time WNBA Champion Alysha Clark, and four-time WNBL Champion Cayla George via free agency.
The Sparks roster looks even more different from last season, starting with a complete bench makeover. Former Connecticut Sun head coach Curt Miller is now at the helm of the Sparks, along with assistant coaches Chris Koclanes, Steve Smith and Danielle Viglione. The Sparks picked up Layshia Clarendon, Nia Clouden, Zia Cooke, Dearica Hamby, Joyner Holmes, Karli Samuelson, Azura’ Stevens and Jasmine Thomas. Only five players remain from last year’s 13-23 season—Lexie Brown, Jordin Canada, Nneka Ogwumike, Chiney Ogwumike and Katie Lou Samuelson, who is out for the season (pregnancy).
In their opening game, the Aces set a league record for opening day margin of victory with a 41-point blowout of Seattle, 105-64. Kelsey Plum and Jackie Young scored 23 points each. Rounding out the six double-digit scorers for the Aces were Chelsea Gray (14), A’ja Wilson (13), Candace Parker (12) and Alysha Clark (10). Wilson grabbed 13 rebounds as the game’s lone double-digit rebounder.
The new-look Sparks had a balanced scoring attack in their 90-71 season-opening win over the Phoenix Mercury. Eight players scored at least seven points, led by rookie Zia Cooke’s 12.
Los Angeles is one of two teams in league history that have captured back-to-back championships, having done so in 2001 and 2002, which is of course the goal of the Aces this year. The only other team to do so was Houston, which earned the league’s first four titles (1997-2000) championships.
The Aces are 42-53 all-time against the Sparks in the regular season, but have won 10-straight games in the series, which is the leagues longest active winning streak against a single franchise.
Last time out: Las Vegas downed Los Angeles 84-66 in Michelob ULTRA Arena on July 23, 2022, to clinch a playoff berth. In a game that featured 10 lead changes and 7 knotted scores, the Aces shot 5-of-8 from 3-point in the fourth quarter to outscore the Sparks 27-13 and pull away in the final 10 minutes of play. Kelsey Plum, who finished with a game-high 29 points behind 4-of-8 from 3-point, made 2-of-3 from afar in the final stanza. A’ja Wilson scored 24 points, Jackie Young had 11 and Chelsea Gray scored 10. After the first half ended knotted 39-all, the Aces pulled ahead by four at the end of the third quarter, 57-53. Five Sparks scored in double figures, led by 15 from Chennedy Carter.