LAS VEGAS (KLAS) — A’ja Wilson’s message to teammate Kelsey Plum was short and not at all sweet.
“I told her she needed to get her s— together,” Wilson said of her exchange with Plum, who performed somewhat poorly in Game 1 of the WNBA Finals. “At the end of the day that’s what she needs to do.”
Consider message received after Plum joined her two highly dependable teammates — Wilson and Chelsea Gray — in an offensive display that routed the Connecticut Sun 85-71 on Tuesday night in Game 2 before an announced crowd of 10,211 at Michelob Ultra Arena.
Plum wasn’t at all upset with her teammate’s abrupt approach.
“Actually, I welcomed it very much, and I felt I feel like you know what, we all want the same thing and I appreciate that this organization believes in me, coaches believe in me, I believe in myself,” Plum said after describing some of her encouraging exchanges with fans and other well-wishers, including advice from her psychologist.
Wilson led the charge in Game 2, as the Aces moved to one victory shy of the title. She had 26 points and 10 rebounds, and Gray, the clever point guard, added 21 points and eight assists.
For much of the season, and the postseason, too, the three Aces have led the offensive push. And most of the time, it’s a tough combination to keep down.
Gray, however, pointed to a team approach, a typical observation from a point guard. “You can see the stats, it’s the toughness, it’s the little things that will get it done,” she said.
Little things like Plum’s penetration, especially in the second quarter when she had 11 points. “I thought Kelsey’s drives opened us up,” Hammon said.
The Aces had two key runs on offense to frustrate the Sun, a tough defensive team.
The first was a 9-1 surge that built a 23-15 lead at the end of the first quarter. Gray had two baskets and Jackie Young a 3-pointer in the outburst.
The second was critical. Jonquel Jones’ 3-pointer followed by a short jumper by Allysa Thomas pulled the Sun to within three points at 49-46 three minutes into the second half.
But the Aces responded with an 11-4 surge over the next five minutes for a 60-50 lead. Plum had five points and Wilson, Gray and Dearica Hamby two each to restore order before the home crowd, which was energetic and loud, something the Aces players noticed.
“We really appreciate everyone coming out and supporting us because this is big,” Wilson said. We have some of the best fans in the world, so I love them.”
Game 3 is 6 p.m. Wednesday (ESPN) at Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, Connecticut.
For the Sun, the the expected response in Game 3 is defense, a team specialty. Connecticut was the second-best defensive team in the regular season, allowing foes an average of 77.8 points. But coach Curt Miller said stopping the Aces — the league’s best offensive team — is no easy task.
“We felt like we were playing catchup all night since we couldn’t string together consecutive stops,” Miller said of the Game 2 loss. “Trying to keep this high-powered offense out of rhythm, and tonight we struggled to do that.”