Sue Bird’s career ends as Aces top Storm to reach to Finals

Sue Bird ended her career with the Seattle Storm, losing to the Las Vegas Aces 97-92.

SEATTLES — Editor’s Note: The above video of Sue Bird’s last home game of the regular season aired on August 8, 2022.

Sue Bird’s career came to an end Tuesday night as Chelsea Gray scored 15 of her 31 points in the fourth quarter and the Las Vegas Aces advanced to the WNBA Finals with a 97-92 win over the Seattle Storm in Game 4 of their semifinal series.

The Aces won the best-of-five series 3-1, all games were tense, full of pressure and full of spectacular shots. The Aces ended up making more, especially Gray, who made five of six shots on the range and scored 12 of the last 20 points for the Aces.

For Las Vegas it will be the third final participation in franchise history. The Aces lost to Seattle in the 2020 WNBA bubble played in Florida, and the franchise reached the finals in 2008 while still in San Antonio, losing to Detroit.

“It’s a bit like the girl who hit Serena (Williams). It’s bittersweet,” said Aces coach Becky Hammon. “I know that myself and our staff, our team and our organization have so much respect for Sue. She had a fairytale career, one that children dream of. She has to live it.”

Breanna Stewart equaled the WNBA playoff record with 42 points, only the fifth player to score 40 or more points in a postseason game, and Jewell Loyd added 29. But Seattle couldn’t find a third scorer and the Aces had an answer to every attack Seattle made after Las Vegas took the lead early in the second half.

The aces will be in the spotlight in the final. After the result, that night was all about Bird and concluding her two decades as a pillar of the Storm franchise and the WNBA.

Bird stayed put after last buzzer and received hugs from the entire aces roster. She wiped away tears as the crowd cheered and cried with her and sang “Thank you, Sue.”

“It was an honor to play for this franchise, to play for these fans. I don’t know what else to say,” Bird said.

Bird, who is the league’s oldest player at 41, started the year believing that would be the case but finally made the decision midway through the regular season.

Las Vegas spoiled the party at Seattle’s home finals of the regular season when Bird was honored by the franchise and league for her 21 seasons with the team and 19 as a player and missed two seasons through injury.

And it was the Aces that finally eliminated Bird and the Storm after four stressful games filled with great performances.

Bird ended her career as one of the most accomplished players of all time: four WNBA titles, five Olympic gold medals, two collegiate titles at UConn, the WNBA all-time leader in assists and games played, and recognition as one of the great players during one golden generation for the league.

She will also retire the definition of being a floor leader and ultimately a winner.

But she was unable to add a fifth title to that definitive resume.

Gray was the biggest thorn in Seattle’s side as their clutch often fired late in the shot clock. Seattle equalized at 67-all, only to hit Gray with a 3 when the shot clock ran out.

Gray later made buckets in the fourth straight to keep the Aces ahead, but her miss and Gabby Williams’ driving layup pulled Seattle back to 82 with 2:40 to go. After an official review, Wilson was ruled a foul of the game for punching Williams in the face, and her free throw gave the Storm a one-point lead.

That was Seattle’s last lead. A’ja Wilson’s three-point play put the Aces back 85-83 and Gray wouldn’t miss, her knight with 30 seconds left giving the Aces a 92-87 lead. Wilson finished with 23 points and 13 rebounds.

Stewart’s 26 first-half points were the most in the first half of a playoff game, surpassing the 24 first-half points Angel McCoughtry had for Atlanta vs. Minnesota in 2011. McCoughtry finished that game with 38.

Las Vegas will host either Connecticut or Chicago in Game 1 of the WNBA Finals on Sunday.

https://www.king5.com/article/sports/wnba/storm/sue-bird-seattle-storm-lose-las-vegas-aces/281-5edaaa42-77c5-4d51-8b48-6f551f12912a Sue Bird’s career ends as Aces top Storm to reach to Finals

Emma Bowman

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