Let the record show it is very, very hard to blow out the Las Vegas Aces three times in a row.
The Aces, owners of the WNBA’s top record, paid back a pair of blowouts from the New York Liberty with a 88-75 win on Thursday, evening the season series at 2-2. The win was like many Aces wins this season, with a balanced scoring effort (four starters scored in double figures) and a star performance by Chelsea Gray.
The All-Star point guard recorded the franchise’s first triple-double since 2001 with 22 points, 11 rebounds and 11 assists, plus three steals and 10-of-22 shooting.
The Liberty had previously beaten the Aces 82-63 on Tuesday and 99-61 on Aug. 6, though it’s worth noting Las Vegas has been without star center Candace Parker since July due to a foot fracture. The former win earned the Liberty the Commissioner’s Cup title. The Aces notched a 98-81 win earlier in the season on June 29.
This game began much like the game on Tuesday, with the Liberty jumping out to an early lead. After New York opened the game with eight straight points, the Aces responded with a run of their own to take back the lead toward the end of the first quarter and build a double-digit advantage in the second.
The Liberty didn’t go away, spending much of the second half slowly chipping away at a deficit that peaked at 14 points. They cut it to as close as four, but never got within real striking distance.
Things got especially testy midway through the fourth when Aces star A’ja Wilson, who reached the 3,500-point career threshold in the same frame, took exception to hard contact from Kayla Thornton on a rebound and was held back by three different teammates, plus head coach Becky Hammon.
The Aces and Liberty will meet one more time, on Aug. 28, before the playoffs in which they are currently on track to be the No. 1 and No. 2 seeds, as expected for a pair of superteams. With all the star power on display, the WNBA is probably hoping they meet one more time in the playoffs.