Coach Becky Hammon suspended from Minus, Aces rout Storm 105-64 to open title defense
SEATTLE (AP) — Jackie Young and Kelsey Plum both scored 23 points, and the Las Vegas Aces opened up their WNBA championship defense with a 105-64 win over the Seattle Storm on Saturday.
The rematch of last year’s WNBA Semifinals series won by the Aces in four games en route to the title featured several changes and absences from this playoff series.
Most noticeably, Las Vegas was without head coach Becky Hammon after she was suspended for two games by the league earlier this week following an investigation into former Aces player Dearica Hamby saying she had been the victim of bullied and manipulated into being pregnant.
Hammon denied that Hamby was bullied because she was pregnant, saying any resentment between the two stemmed from Hamby’s trade.
But the Aces haven’t missed a beat without their head coach on the sidelines. Interim head coach Tyler Marsh had only to decide which combinations from the Aces’ star roster to call upon, all under the watchful and approving eye of owner Mark Davis who watched from his seat in base.
Six ace players finished in double figures. A’ja Wilson had 13 points and 13 rebounds, Chelsea Gray scored 14 points and Alysha Clark added 10 off the bench.
Then there was two-time MVP Candace Parker. In his debut with the Aces, Parker added 12 points, five rebounds and three blocks. It was Hamby’s trade to the Los Angeles Sparks that allowed the Aces to add Parker and create a roster that, along with New York, are the overwhelming favorites to win the league title, according to FanDuel Sportsbook.
Jewell Loyd led Seattle with 22 points as the Storm began what should be a rebuilding season in the franchise’s next chapter. For the first time since 2002, Sue Bird was no longer part of Seattle’s roster to start the season after retiring at the end of last season, although she was seated on the field for Saturday’s game.
Seattle also lost two-time league MVP Breanna Stewart after leaving for New York during free agency and starting wing Gabby Williams was still in Europe, although the Storm hopes the restricted free agent could make it with the hope that she will join the Storm soon.
That left Loyd as the only showpiece from last season still on the pitch as a contributor. She struggled early on, missing her first eight shots and struggled to look clean whenever Plum had the defensive mission. Loyd finished 7 of 25 shots.
No other Seattle player has scored more than rookie Jordan Horston’s eight points.
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