LAS VEGAS (KLAS) — A’ja Wilson was a little more satisfied, a lot more relieved Wednesday night.
Her Aces had just evened their best-of-five semifinal series against the Seattle Storm, winning 78-73 in Game 2 before an announced crowd of 9,755 at Michelob Ultra Arena.
“When I saw the game getting down to the wire I was like, ‘Well, we’re not going to let this happen again,’ I learned my lesson,” said Wilson, who scored a career playoff-best 33 points and pulled down 13 rebounds.
Wilson was limited to eight points in a Game 1 loss, and she also lost her matchup with Breanna Stewart, the Storm standout, who had 24 points. Wilson knew she was on the spot in Game 2.
“I needed to be the anchor that I was before and being consistent into what got us here,” she said.
Normally, when the Aces win, they get balanced scoring, clutch plays from several players. That was the case in Game 2.
Chelsea Gray was strong with 19 points (8-for-13 shooting, including 3 of 5 3-pointers), seven rebounds and seven assists, and Kelsey Plum added 18 points, shooting 6-for-15, including 1-for-3 on 3s.
Each had key baskets in the final period, when Seattle rallied back from a 10-point deficit.
Plum made a reverse layup, converting a nifty feed from Gray, for a 73-67 led with 1:43 left. And then Gray made a fadeaway jumper from the top of the key with two defenders waving at her face for a 75-69 advantage with 1:02 left.
Wilson sank three free throws down the stretch for the Aces’ final points.
“At end of the day we knew what we had to do. We had to take care of home,” Wilson said. “… Now we got to go to Seattle, which is gonna be even harder. We just got to buckle down. “
Stewart again was a force for Seattle with 32 points and seven rebounds. Tina Charles added 17 points and nine rebounds. Jewell Loyd, who made several clutch shots to clinch the Game 1 win for the Storm, had eight points and shot a meager 2-for-10.
“We had a lot of a lot of opportunities to kind of get the game back on our side and take momentum,” Stewart said.
Wilson says to expect some of the same inconsistency in Game 3 on Sunday (3 p.m., ABC) with two the two teams so evenly matched.
She described the back-and-forth sequences in each of the first two games as organized chaos.
“But we come together at times,” she said. “It’s just staying composed. People go on their runs. There’s a lot of ups and downs. But if we just stay within ourselves, then I’m gonna bet on us.”