Las Vegas Aces advance to WNBA Finals with win over Seattle Storm as Sue Bird’s career comes to close

SEATTLE — The Las Vegas Aces came through in the same round they came up short a year ago and returned to the WNBA for the second time in three years with a 97-92 win Tuesday in Game 4 of their semifinal series -Finals returned the Seattle Storm, who won 3-1.

The Aces, who lost to Seattle in the 2020 WNBA Finals, were close to returning last year before losing Game 5 of their semifinal series with Phoenix Mercury by home field advantage under former head coach Bill Laimbeer.

This time, Las Vegas, under first-year head coach Becky Hammon, made sure there was no such stumble, winning three straight games after losing Game 1 of the series at home.

The Aces ended Sue Bird’s legendary WNBA career. The Storm Point Guard, a 13-time All-Star and four-time Seattle champion, announced in June that this would be their final season.

In an attempt to prolong Bird’s career, The Storm got dominant performances from her other two stars. Breanna Stewart’s career-high 42 points put Angel McCoughtry’s all-time point in a WNBA playoff game. Fellow All-Star Jewell Loyd added 29 points, surpassing the 26 she scored in Game 1 as a new playoff career high.

The 71 combined points for Loyd and Stewart was the highest all-time for teammates in the postseason, surpassing their own record of 65 set in the 2020 Finals against the Aces.

But Las Vegas countered Seattle’s stars with deeper offensive contributions and tremendous shooting from guard Chelsea Gray during a fourth quarter that featured three ties and three lead changes.

Gray scored three consecutive high difficulty jumpers in the final 2:03 of the game. The first two gave the Aces the lead after Seattle tied the game, and the last extended it to five with 30.7 seconds remaining. The Storm never got closer than three points again.

With 31 points and 10 assists — the first such game in WNBA playoff history according to research from ESPN Stats & Information — Gray led four aces players who scored at least 15 points. A’ja Wilson (23 points, 13 rebounds) had her second double-double of the series, Jackie Young had 18 points and Kelsey Plum had 15.

Loyd and Stewart were the only Seattle players to score double digits.

https://www.espn.com/wnba/story/_/id/34539150/las-vegas-aces-advance-wnba-finals-win-seattle-storm-sue-bird-career-comes-close Las Vegas Aces advance to WNBA Finals with win over Seattle Storm as Sue Bird’s career comes to close

Emma Bowman

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