Aces steamroll Liberty in the 1st battle of the WNBA super teams

LAS VEGAS, NEVADA - JUNE 29: Kelsey Plum #10 of the Las Vegas Aces drives to the basket against Courtney Vandersloot #22 of the New York Liberty in the first quarter of their match at Michelob ULTRA Arena on June 29, 2023 in Las Vegas, Nevada.  NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that by downloading and/or using this photograph, user accepts the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)

Aces seem unstoppable right now. (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)

The Las Vegas Aces and New York Liberty entered the 2023 season as ostensible superteams, but Thursday showed the WNBA’s elite could be a class of their own.

With a true team effort, the Aces cruised through the Liberty steadily but assertively in a 98-81 home win, improving their record to 14-1, the best record in the WNBA. The Liberty fell to 10-4, which puts them one step behind the Connecticut Sun 12-4 for the best score in the East.

The Aces never trailed, but the Liberty at least kept pace for much of the first quarter. Then the lead kept growing and growing through the second and third quarters as Vegas got almost all the shots it wanted.

Each member of the Aces’ starting lineup — Kelsey Plum, A’ja Wilson, Candace Parker, Chelsea Gray and Jackie Young — had at least 10 points and three assists by the end of the third quarter, by which time the Aces were up 76. -56. Plum led all scorers with 18 points on 7-of-12 shooting, plus eight assists.

As a team, the Aces had six turnovers.

The Liberty came into the game with four straight wins, appearing to edge closer to expected form when Breanna Stewart, Jonquel Jones and Courtney Vandersloot teamed up with Betnijah Laney and Sabrina Ionescu. They weren’t totally lost in Vegas — for the first half, at least — but they certainly left the Michelob Ultra Arena with a few questions to answer.

Vandersloot had one of Liberty’s highlights when she delivered her 2,500th career assist in the first quarter, becoming the third player in WNBA history to reach that mark.

Meanwhile, the Aces could face a tougher challenge on Saturday when the sun comes to town. If they pass this test, it might be time to start wondering when they will suffer their second loss, as they will have 10 straight games against teams below .500 on the slate until they face again the Liberty on August 6th.

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