The twists and turns of the young WNBA season include the Las Vegas Aces showing signs of life and the recently vibrant Dallas Wings searching for answers with starting guard Karima Christmas-Kelly out for the rest of the season with a knee injury.
The Aces (3-7) embarked on their current road trip with only one win after eight games. They have since defeated the Indiana Fever and the New York Liberty and complete their travel with a game at Dallas (4-4) on Friday night.
The Wings won three of four games before losing at home 75-72 on Wednesday to the Phoenix Mercury when guard Skylar Diggins-Smith missed a 3-pointer at the buzzer.
That was not the most heartbreaking development for the Wings that day. Earlier that afternoon, it was announced Christmas-Kelly, an eight-year veteran known for her defense and playmaking ability, will require knee surgery and will be lost the rest of the season.
“It throws a little rhythm off. You lose that especially in games like tonight,” Dallas coach Fred Williams said after the loss to Phoenix. “She’s a big voice for us on the floor.”
Las Vegas enters Friday’s game playing with its best rhythm of the season. The Aces are coming off a 78-63 victory over the Liberty, achieving a successful return for coach Bill Laimbeer, who coached New York for five seasons.
Dearica Hamby led the Aces with 17 points and Kayla McBride added 16. The guards combined to make 14 of 23 shots from the field.
“We showed it can be done,” said post player A’ja Wilson, who scored 13 points.
Wilson had 17 of her 35 points in the fourth quarter and overtime of Las Vegas’ previous game at Indiana, a 101-92 overtime victory over the winless Fever.
“It’s a process,” McBride said of the modest two-game winning streak. “We are learning to play with each other. When we play hard and together, we can be a dangerous team.”
The process for the Wings is to adapt without Christmas-Kelly with forward Kayla Thornton and guards Kaela Davis and Aerial Powers.
Thornton has the defensive capabilities similar to Christmas-Kelly with the ability to guard multiple positions. She defended Phoenix center Brittney Griner and guard Diana Taurasi.
“We needed her energy defensively to guard inside and out,” Williams said. “She’s a player that’s strong, will-powered and going to get better.”