Las Vegas Aces have found winning ways again under Hammon

Team Wilson head coach Becky Hammon talks to players during the first half of a WNBA All-Star basketball game against the Team Stewart in Chicago, Sunday, July 10, 2022. (AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh) (Nam Y. Huh, Copyright 2022 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)

The All-Star break came at a good time for the Las Vegas Aces and since play resumed they've been on a roll.

Las Vegas has won three straight — all on the road — averaging 102 points a game in those victories.

“We have so many weapons on offense," said Aces guard Kelsey Plum, who is having the best season of her career, averaging 20.3 points. That's second best in the league.

The Aces (18-7) have five starters scoring in double figures and are averaging a league-high 91.3 points a game. Chelsea Gray credits coach Becky Hammon for simplifying their offensive and defensive systems on both ends of the court as one reason for the team's success.

Las Vegas won 13 of its first 15 games before stumbling prior to the All-Star break with five losses in seven games.

Now the Aces are winning again.

“No one said it was going to be easy. If being great was easy, everyone would be doing it,” Hammon said. “You have to hit some adversity. There should be some hiccups. We came out like a rocket and then hit some rough patches.

“The adversity will be beneficial to us more than the win-loss record down the road.”

They have three games at home before embarking on a six-game road trip that includes the Commissioner's Cup title game in Chicago next Tuesday.

This week’s WNBA poll:

1. Chicago (19-6): The Sky keep winning, with four straight victories and nine of 10. Chicago was missing guard Courtney Vandersloot for concussion protocol in the last game, but hope to have her back soon.

2. Las Vegas (18-7): Riquna Williams has lately been providing solid minutes off the bench, averaging 7.2 points this season to give the Aces a spark.

3. Seattle (17-8): The Storm have won four straight and will be tested this week at Chicago and Phoenix.

4. Connecticut (16-9): The Sun were playing well following the All-Star break, then Jonquel Jones had to miss games because of COVID protocols. They hope to have the reigning MVP back soon.

5. Washington (16-11): Elena Delle Donne has been the pivotal to the Mystics' run lately. The 6-foot-5 former league MVP has been able to play more and rest her back less. Washington has just one game this week before playing four games in six days.

6. Atlanta (11-14): A big road win at Phoenix without All-Star rookie Rhyne Howard has the Dream feeling good. Howard has been bothered by a shoulder injury and they hope to have her back soon. Atlanta already has its most wins since 2018.

7. Dallas (11-14): The Wings are looking to rebound after losing two of their last three. Center Teaira McCowan has provided a huge lift for the Wings in limited minutes.

8. Minnesota (10-17): The Lynx have consecutive home games against the Sun that will be critical to their chances of keeping their 11-year run of making the postseason alive.

9 (tie). Los Angeles (10-14): After a challenging road stretch to start the season, Los Angeles has been playing in the comforts of home for most of July. The Sparks haven't been able to take advantage of it so far, going 2-3 during their seven-game homestand. Getting center Liz Cambage back from COVID protocols will help.

9 (tie). New York (9-15): The Liberty gave up 215 points in two games to Las Vegas and if they want to have any chance of making the postseason New York will need to clean up its defense — which sits near the bottom of the league. The Liberty are giving up 84.7 a game on average.

11. Phoenix (11-16): The Mercury haven't been able to establish any consistency on either end of the floor this season. Skylar Diggins-Smith is having another great year satistically and Diana Taurasi lately has been playing well. The Mercury haven't had much other production on the offensive end.

12. Indiana (5-22): Nine straight losses have the Fever looking towards the draft lottery and hopefully getting the No. 1 pick for the first time in franchise history.

PLAYER OF THE WEEK

Elena Delle Donne of Washington was voted the AP Player of the Week. She averaged 22 points, eight rebounds and 3.3 assists to help the Mystics win two of their three games. Kahleah Copper of Chicago, Breanna Stewart of Seattle, Kelsey Plum of Las Vegas and Jonquel Jones of Connecticut also received votes.

MEANINGFUL GESTURE

The WNBA All-Stars all switched to uniforms with Brittney Griner's name and number on them for the second half of the game. Griner held up a photo showing the players honoring her when she was in court last week during her trial for drug possession.

GAME OF THE WEEK:

Seattle at Phoenix, Friday. Sue Bird and Diana Taurasi will meet for the final time in the regular season after spending the last two decades linked together from their time at UConn and on the U.S. national team. The game will also serve as a return to Phoenix for Tina Charles, who left the Mercury last month..

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