GAME PREVIEW: Aces Travel to Los Angeles with 6-Game Winning Streak in Tow

LOS ANGELES (July 5, 2024)—Las Vegas has a quick turnaround today as the Aces traveled to Los Angeles for a Friday, July 5, meeting with the Sparks (4-15). This comes less than 24 hours after Las Vegas upended Washington, 98-77, Thursday night to improve to 12-6 on the year.

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The Aces have won 6 straight games since the return of the Point Gawd, Chelsea Gray, and each of those wins have have been by double figures. The WNBA record for consecutive double-digit wins is 10 by the Houston Comets in the 2000 season, and the franchise mark is 8 set a year ago.

Las Vegas is in the middle of one of its busiest stretches of the season with 4 games in 6 days between July 2-7. Despite the pace, Las Vegas has improved its output on both the offensive and defensive end. The Aces are now second in the WNBA in offensive efficiency (107.4 points per 100 possessions), just behind New York’s 108.2, and 6th in the league in defensive efficiency (100.9).

Las Vegas’ improvement on the defensive end has been most noticeable, as the team’s DER over its last 6 games is 94.5. Opponents are shooting 41.3% overall, and 34.2% from 3-point range over that span, after connecting on 44.5% and  39.3% respectively through the Aces’ first 12 games of the season.

Offensively, A’ja Wilson shows no signs of slowing down as she continues to lead the WNBA in scoring (26.5 ppg), which would break the league record for scoring average in a season (Diana Taurasi, 25.3 ppg, 2006). She also ranks 2nd in the W in rebounding (10.9), 1st in blocks (2.5), 5th in steals (1.94) and 7th in field goal percentage (.525).

Kelsey Plum (18.8 ppg, 7th) and Jackie Young (18.8 ppg, 8th) are also ranked in the top 10 in the league in scoring. Plum has scored 62 points over her last 2 games, including 28 against Washington on Thursday—the 3rd most points ever scored by a WNBA player on Independence Day (Cappie Pondexter, 34, NY at LA, July 4, 2013).

Since beating the Aces on June 9 to improve to 4-7 on the year, the Sparks have lost 8 straight games. Seven of those losses were on the road, and it is the Sparks’ defense that has been letting them down most during that time. Since June 10, they are allowing opponents to score 110.1 points per 100 possessions, connect on 49.3% of their field goal attempts and make 38.7% of their shots from 3-point range.

Los Angeles’ offense hasn’t been much better, scoring 97.2 points per 100 possessions.  The team is making 43.9% of its field goal attempts while turning the ball over on nearly 1 in 5 possessions.

Dearica Hamby has been one of the Sparks’ most consistent performers on the year, averaging career highs in scoring (18.3 ppg), rebounding (10.3 rpg) and assists (3.7 apg), while connecting on 51.8% of her field goal attempts, and 43.2% from distance. She is also getting to the free throw line more than at any time in her career.

Rookie Rickea Jackson is the only other player averaging in double figures for Los Angeles at 10.2 points per game. She is also averaging 3.5 rebounds, while making 46.8% of her shots from the field and 34.2v from beyond the arc. The Spark’s other notable rookie, Cameron Brink, was having a productive first season in LA, averaging 7.5 points, 5.3 rebounds and 2.3 blocks per game, but she tore her ACL on June 18 in Connecticut and will miss the rest of the 2024 campaign.

The Aces are 46-55 all-time against the Sparks. Los Angeles snapped a 13-game losing streak to Las Vegas on August 19, 2023, and has won 2 of the last 3 meetings between the clubs.