Aces make home debut against Storm

Giddy with success over its Stanley Cup Final hockey team, Las Vegas welcomes its newest professional franchise to town with plenty of optimism Sunday when the Las Vegas Aces make their home debut against the two-time WNBA champion Seattle Storm.

The Aces (0-2) will be looking for their first win in their new home since moving from San Antonio after last season. Las Vegas lost by 36 to the Connecticut Sun in their opener May 20 and trailed Elena Della Donne and the Washington Mystics 71-70 with 30 seconds left before losing 75-70 on Tuesday.

The Storm (2-1) are coming off a 95-91 overtime win over the Chicago Sky on Friday. Seattle trailed by 14 points in the fourth quarter before pulling out the win.

Jewell Lloyd recorded her second 29-point game. Breanna Stewart poured in 28 as the Storm erased double-digit leads in both halves.

“For us, it was an inconsistent performance,” Storm coach Dan Hughes told the Seattle Times. “You’ve got to be proud of a team that would never doubt that they could finish the game. It’s a great lesson.”

After two games, Aces coach Bill Laimbeer knows all about inconsistencies. But on Sunday he gets the services of two key players who will be making their Las Vegas debut when the ball tips at the Mandalay Bay Event Center.

Last year’s No. 1 pick Kelsey Plum and Kayla McBride, the Aces’ leading scorer when the team was the San Antonio Stars, were moved to the active roster Thursday after finishing their Turkish League Finals series.

Both can’t wait to play under the lights of the Las Vegas Strip.

“To be here, and to have a new start, a new coach, a new brand, I think for us it’s really cool,” McBride told the Las Vegas Review-Journal. “It’s really refreshing, I would say … at the end of the day its basketball, and I get to do that for a living.”

Plum told the Review-Journal playing in Europe was an eye-opening experience and her confidence level has soared. The Division I women’s all-time scoring leader averaged 8.5 points per game in her rookie season and is certain that number will rise.

“I think mentally I’m a different person. Overseas will do that to you,” she said. “Honestly, whatever comes my way, I’ll handle it. I expect things from myself, but I’d rather just play it on the court than say it.”

The Aces will need McBride and Plum to make some shots. In their first two games, the Aces’ perimeter game has been woeful having made only 2 of 16 attempts beyond the arc.

Along with this year’s No. 1 pick, A’ja Wilson, Laimbeer has another budding super star in the making. After two games, Wilson is averaging 15.0 points, 9.0 rebounds and 2.0 steals per game.

“It’s about time. We’re able to see what we have,” Laimbeer said. “It’s going to take some more time to integrate these people into what we do, so we’re going to be even more behind. At the same time, at least we see a light at the end of the tunnel. How long it takes us to get out of the tunnel is open for debate.”