August 12, 2022 

Daily Briefing — Aug. 12, 2022: Las Vegas moves into first place after win over Chicago

The Spark(s) is gone

Happy Friday! Welcome to The Next’s Daily Briefing, featuring the W Roundup, daily Watch List and Yesterday’s Recap. Day 84 of the WNBA season is here, following your Las Vegas Aces taking over as the No. 1 seed in the league. Vegas raced out to a first-quarter lead over Chicago, and was basically only breaking a sweat every time Kahleah Copper touched the ball. Otherwise, the Aces galloped away. And boy do I mean galloped:

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The Aces are now 2-1 against the Sky this season, so despite their identical win-loss records, Vegas currently sits in first place. Both have one game remaining, with the Aces facing the Storm at home and Chicago traveling to Phoenix. On the one hand, each might like to slide to the No. 2 seed and avoid having to play Breanna Stewart or Elena Delle Donne in the semifinals; on the other hand, the Sky beating the Mercury might mean the difference between Chicago having a lottery pick next April.

Elsewhere, the Sun pummeled the Sparks into elimination from playoff contention. But at least Los Angeles finally gave minutes to Chennedy Carter, the player it traded away a now-lottery pick for.

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But first, read:

  • The Ringer’s Mirin Fader profiled Sylvia Fowles, from the insecurities that have fueled her to her journey into becoming a leader
  • The Washington Post’s Kareem Copeland storied Eric Thibault’s path to Future Washington Mystics Head Coach
  • Bally Sports’ Maggie Hendricks dove into the culture shift in Atlanta through the vibes from the Dream’s arena on gameday
  • Her Hoop Stats’ Richard Cohen continues his “WNBA Dissected” series with a look at the implications of positionless All-WNBA voting, The Chennedy Carter Situation and more
  • Rachel Galligan polled 20 front office personnel and coaches around the league, and found some truly ludicrous takes on the W’s end-of-season awards

W Roundup

Las Vegas: Combo forward Dearica Hamby is out two-to-four weeks with a right knee contusion, putting her out until at least the late semifinals.

Phoenix: The Mercury partially suspended combo guard Skylar Diggins-Smith’s contract, after announcing she was away from the team with a personal matter for the remainder of the season. I wish I had more for you on what’s clearly wild news, but all I have is: it’s pretty remarkable that Diggins-Smith was able to play this well, this long, on a team that had little interest in her playing this well, this long, for them.

Watch List, Friday, Aug. 12

(All times in Eastern, Game Of The Day in bold)

Washington @ Indiana, 7 p.m., League Pass/Facebook (Local: Monumental Sports Network, Bally Sports Indiana)

New York @ Atlanta, 7:30 p.m., CBS Sports Network (Local: Bally Sports South)

Seattle @ Minnesota, 9 p.m., ESPN2 — Sylvia Fowles’ last home game

Dallas @ Phoenix, 10 p.m., NBA TV (Local: Bally Sports Southwest Extra, Bally Sports Arizona Extra) — Mercury are effectively eliminated with a loss

Thursday, Aug. 11 recap

Las Vegas (25-10) beat Chicago (25-10), 89-78. It was a one-point game after 3.5 minutes, before the Aces went on a 20-7 run. Vegas shot 42.9% from three while holding the Sky to 3-for-21 from deep; the Aces notched 10 steals, part of 17 Chicago turnovers.

Point guard Kelsey Plum led Vegas with 25 points on 8-for-13 from the field and 4-for-5 from three and five assists; wing Jackie Young had 22 points on 8-for-19 shooting (1-5 3pt.), five rebounds and two assists against five fouls in 35 minutes; center A’ja Wilson notched 12 points on 4-for-12 FG (0-3 3pt., 4-6 FT), six rebounds, two assists, four steals and two blocks against two turnovers.

The Sky were led by wing Kahleah Copper’s 28 points on 11-for-18 from the field (1-4 3pt.) and 5-for-6 from the line, four rebounds and three assists against five fouls in 31 minutes; big Candace Parker recorded a double-double with 15 points on 6-for-12 shooting (0-5 3pt.) and 12 rebounds, plus six assists against four turnovers; big Emma Meesseman had 14 points on 6-for-10 FG (0-2 3pt.) and seven rebounds against two turnovers.

Connecticut (24-11) beat Los Angeles (13-22), 93-69, eliminating the Sparks from playoff contention. The game was within one possession in the late first, and about 15 minutes later, the Sun led by 23. Connecticut shot 8.8 percentage points better from the field while taking 14 more free-throws and winning the rebounding battle by 18; the teams combined for 36 turnovers; the Sparks committed 22 fouls.

Big Alyssa Thomas led the Sun with 18 points on 8-for-11 FG, nine rebounds and five assists against two turnovers and four fouls in 23 minutes; big Jonquel Jones had 17 points on 6-for-9 from the field (1-3 3pt.) and 4-for-6 from the line, eight rebounds (three offensive), two assists and three blocks — good for a new franchise record in career blocks — against three turnovers in 23 minutes; backup center Brionna Jones notched 16 points in 18 minutes on 6-for-10 shooting, eight rebounds (three offensive) and three steals.

Los Angeles was led by off-ball guard Brittney Sykes’ 18 points on 8-for-14 shooting (1-2 3pt.), two rebounds, two assists and two steals against three turnovers and four fouls; big Nneka Ogwumike had 10 points on 5-for-11 FG (0-1 3pt.), nine rebounds (three offensive), three assists and three steals against four turnovers and five fouls in 27 minutes.

Written by Em Adler

Em Adler (she/they) covers the WNBA at large and college basketball for The Next, with a focus on player development and the game behind the game.

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