|Aces, Wings both on bubble ahead of battle|
With two regular-season games remaining, the Las Vegas Aces and the free-falling Dallas Wings are playing for the eighth and final WNBA playoff spot Friday night at the College Park Center in Dallas.
Both have 14-18 records, but the Wings have lost nine straight games, leading to the firing of head coach Fred Williams and the placement of Taj McWilliams-Franklin as the interim head coach.
Williams was let go after the team lost Saturday at Washington. He reportedly got into a heated exchange outside the locker room with Dallas chief executive officer Greg Bigg.
"I felt this move was necessary," Bibb said in a team statement about the coaching change. "The season has not met our expectations. I have asked Taj to serve as our interim head coach and I have the upmost confidence that she and our staff will do everything possible to put us in the best position to win."
The Aces have won their last two games -- at home against the league's worst teams (New York Liberty and Indiana Fever) -- after breaking a five-game losing streak.
To clinch the last playoff spot, Las Vegas must beat Dallas and then hope to either beat the Atlanta Dream (one of the league's best teams at 22-10) at home Sunday or the Wings continue to lose when they visit the best team, the Seattle Storm (24-8), on Sunday.
Dallas will move on to the playoffs no matter what if it beats the Aces. The Wings already hold the tiebreaker with a 2-0 record against Las Vegas.
The good news for Dallas is that All-Star center Liz Cambage returned Tuesday in a 96-76 loss at Connecticut after missing two games with a neck injury. She finished with 15 points and 13 rebounds.
Backup forward Glory Johnson (7.6 points, 5.9 rebounds per game) suffered a cervical strain injury in the first quarter and did not return, however. Her status for Friday's game is questionable.
Las Vegas appears healthy and confident heading into the matchup with the Wings after their two recent wins. Aces coach Bill Laimbeer said he did not know what to expect from this year's team, its first in Las Vegas after moving from San Antonio.
"I had never coached most of these players before," Laimbeer said. "We had a rookie in A'ja Wilson and I knew what she was capable of but didn't know what she was going to be able to do in her first year.
"I really didn't have any expectations except I told them at the start of the season that at the end of the season they wanted to be the team that no one wanted to play then the record was going to be whatever it was going to be.
"But I think we have accomplished that goal that I think that teams don't want to play us because we have the capability of scoring a lot of points and move up and down the floor. We're at the point now that we have a chance."