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FSM Essential Recap: Aces vs. Mystics – Game 3 – 2022

Franchise Sports Media

Las Vegas Aces (2-1)  |  Washington Mystics (3-0)



The Las Vegas Aces looked mortal for the first time this season in their 89-76 loss to the Washington Mystics on Tuesday. 



If there were one quote to perfectly sum up the Las Vegas Aces‘ night in the nation’s capital, it would be this one from the legendary Mike Tyson — “Everybody has a plan until they get punched in the mouth.”

The Aces rolled into the Entertainment & Sports Arena on Tuesday night and followed a similar plan that led them to win their first two games of the season comfortably. The process: Quickly getting out of the gates to build a double-digit first-quarter lead behind a balanced scoring attack and physical defense.

Such execution transferred over to the second frame, where more of the same — A’ja Wilson controlled the paint on both ends, and Chelsea Gray and Kelsey Plum perfected the drive-and-kick offense, leading to 49 points at the break.

But that first 20 minutes of play was like a prizefight. The Mystics sacrificed repeated jabs to the face to get a feel for their opponent. Mike Thibault‘s group came out of the half with a new plan that included punching the Aces back, something Vegas‘ first two opponents hadn’t done.

And it took only a couple of minutes into the half for Washington‘s punches to land cleanly and shake Las Vegas‘ composure. Suddenly, the Mystics looked like the Aces. Elena Delle Donne and Myisha HinesAllen took control of the game, bullying Las Vegas in the paint and upping the defensive intensity to turn the Aces‘ miscues into transition points.

“In the previous two games, we gave up 30 points combined in the paint defensively, and tonight we gave up 36,” said Hammon on Las Vegas‘ defensive issues.

Yet, as well as the Mystics adjusted after halftime, some of what swung the game in that 24-7 third quarter beatdown were the Aces’ self-inflicted wounds. Usual drive-and-kicks became drive-and-force shots, and a bit of hero-ball materialized as adversity hit. With that came turnovers. Las Vegas turned the ball over 16 times on Tuesday, which marked the third time in three games that number was hit.

“Turnovers are becoming a bit of a problem for us. (We) Drove into a lot of congestion and had some fatigue turnovers,” said Becky Hammon following the loss. “We were getting too deep. You can’t make decisions deep in the paint against that kind of congestion and not turn it over.”

Las Vegas also made six threes and attempted 17, its fewest of the season in the loss. Hammon noted after the game how she thought the team “passed up about ten threes.” Those looks would have loosened up a stellar Washington second-half defense and gifted the Aces more room to operate on that end.

As a result, the game got away from the Aces in a hurry. They walk out of DC with their first loss of the season.

You can catch the Aces in action on Friday, May 13th, when they travel to Atlanta for a matchup with 2022 No. 1 overall pick Rhyne Howard and the Atlanta Dream. Follow the game live at 4:30 p.m. PST on ESPN2, and check back with us for a game recap.

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-Cole Huff– Franchise Sports Media

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