Talent can take a team only so far. Luck seems to always play a role. To be successful a team has to have both, along with mental toughness.
Minnesota and Los Angeles have been the WNBA standard bearers for quite a while and teams such as Las Vegas and Dallas can only wonder what it’s like to enjoy the kind of success the Lynx and Sparks have had during their recent run.
The Aces won 15 games over the past two years playing as the San Antonio Stars before moving to Vegas. The Wings have fared a little better winning 27 times during that span, making the playoffs in 2017. This year, the two have shown brief flashes of progress but still have a way to go.
Dallas and Las Vegas will put their wares on display Wednesday at Mandalay Bay Events Center on the Las Vegas Strip.
The Aces (5-10) are coming off a loss to the aforementioned Lynx — a loss that should provide a good learning opportunity for Bill Laimbeer’s squad, which got a good look at what makes up a contender.
“They’ve won four out of the last six championships,” second-year guard Kelsey Plum said the Lynx. “Of course they’re skilled and athletic and they have talent, but it all boils down to mental toughness … They beat us today because they were tougher than us.”
Plum was the top pick in last year’s WNBA draft. This year’s top pick, A’ja Wilson echoed her teammate’s thoughts.
“I think we really learned something from this game,” Wilson said. “The quicker we learn (mental toughness), the easier it’ll be for us. You have to act like you’ve been in situations before and know how to pull out of it from a mental standpoint … At the end of the day, the game is all mental.”
Talk about mental toughness. The Wings (6-7) are playing their third game in four nights and Wednesday’s game is a back-to-back. On Tuesday, Dallas lost to the Sparks 87-83 in Los Angeles. On Sunday, the Seattle Storm beat the Wings, 97-76.
Dallas’ Kayla Thornton blamed the loss on a lack of intensity.
“I think we just have to come up more focused as a unit. We have to bring the same energy and the same intensity, and the same effort as if we won.”
They brought the energy in the first half Tuesday and carried an eight-point lead throughout the first half and led by four at halftime.
Dallas went up by eight in the third but the Sparks fought back to take a lead in the fourth quarter, despite no head coach Brian Agler (ejected) or Nneka Ogwumike (back).
As usual, Liz Cambage led the Wings with 25 points and 14 rebounds, her fifth double-double of the season. The Aces will have to control Cambage if they are to have a chance.
The Wings were unable to stop Seattle’s Breanna Stewart (28 points and 12 boards) on Sunday. In Tuesday’s loss, Candace Parker knocked down 29 points for Los Angeles. The Aces’ Wilson could have a field day as she averages 20.1 points and 8.5 rebounds.