Thursday, July 18

Aces close out Liberty in thrilling Game 4: How Las Vegas won its second straight WNBA title

The Las Vegas Aces captured their second consecutive WNBA title Wednesday, rallying to defeat the New York Liberty 70-69 on the road in Game 4. Here’s what you need to know:

  • After trailing at 39-30 at halftime, Las Vegas roared back to outscore New York 23-12 in the third quarter. The Liberty responded in the fourth, but Courtney Vandersloot’s potential game-winning jumper did not fall in the final seconds.
  • Aces star forward A’ja Wilson led all scorers with 24 points and 16 rebounds en route to 2023 WNBA Finals MVP honors, while guard Jackie Young added 16 points.
  • Las Vegas is the first team to win back-to-back WNBA titles since the Los Angeles Sparks in 2001-2002.
  • The Aces closed out the series 3-1 despite being without starters Chelsea Gray and Kiah Stokes, who were both sidelined for Game 4 with foot injuries.

Aces bottled up Liberty frontcourt

New York entered this series with the regular-season MVP and had the most dominant player through the first three games in Jonquel Jones. Neither player had an effective performance in Game 4. Breanna Stewart shot 3-of-17 from the field and missed a hauntingly wide-open 3-pointer with her team down 68-64 that could have changed the tenor of the final minute. Meanwhile, Wilson effectively kept Jones off the scoresheet — New York could barely get her the ball, and when Jones did get the ball inside, she was smothered by the defensive player of the year. — Sabreena Merchant, women’s basketball writer

A disappointing ending to New York’s season

It was Vandersloot who took the final shot of the 2023 WNBA Finals — an airball, which gave the Aces a 70-69 victory in Game 4. Although the crowd at Barclays Center gave the team an ovation as they walked off, there were no acknowledgments from Liberty players as they retreated to the locker room. New York shot just 36.1 from the field, with Stewart and Jones combining to shoot just 6-of-25 from the field and scoring only 16 points. A sub-par third quarter plagued them yet again. It was a stunning end for the Liberty’s season, and an abrupt one — a finish that came to a Las Vegas team that was down two of its top six players. — Ben Pickman, women’s basketball writer

Championship-clinching play

Required reading

(Photo: Sarah Stier / Getty Images)