There is no argument Liz Cambage is a bona fide All-Star, but the Las Vegas Aces center may have to play like a superstar as they attempt to weather playing without injured forward A'ja Wilson starting with Sunday's home game against Minnesota.
Wilson, who is averaging a team-high 15.8 points and 6.6 rebounds, suffered a sprained left ankle in the third quarter of the Aces' 69-66 loss at Seattle on Friday night following a collision with Cambage. The All-Star captain will undergo an MRI to determine the extent of the injury, but her availability for this game - as well as Saturday's All-Star contest at Mandalay Bay Events Center - is in doubt.
Wilson, along with Washington Mystics forward Elena Delle Donne, are slated to pick the All-Star teams Tuesday night. Wilson posted an upbeat Tweet after the game, saying, "Thank you EVERYONE for all the messages, tweets and most importantly the prayers!" followed by a trio of emojis.
The loss snapped a five-game winning streak for Las Vegas (11-6), featuring its two trademarks of poor play - a slow start and carelessness with the ball. The Aces fell behind 19-6 to start the game and finished with 21 turnovers, which made Cambage's 16 points and 14 rebounds go for naught.
"I don't know what it's going to take for us to not use the first couple of quarters as a warmup," Cambage told the Las Vegas Review-Journal. "Coming out like that, having 21 turnovers, we're not going to win games like that no matter how hard we play. We've just got to work it out."
The Aces average 15.8 turnovers, the second-most in the WNBA, and their sloppiness negated a defensive effort in which they held Seattle to 27.8 percent shooting.
Minnesota (10-8) is also coming off a loss to Seattle, having been idle since a 90-79 home loss Wednesday. Sylvia Fowles had 16 points and seven rebounds for the Lynx, who nearly erased all of a 12-point fourth-quarter deficit before the Storm closed out the game on a 10-0 burst.
"I'll listen to my mom," Lynx coach Cheryl Reeve told the Minneapolis Star-Tribune after Seattle shot 52.3 percent. "I don't have a lot of nice things to say about our defense. Just wasn't very good. ... I don't like getting run out of the gym on your home court."
Normally a solid defensive team on the perimeter who holds opponents to 32.1 percent from 3-point range, the Lynx allowed the Storm to go 12 for 25 from deep. That could prove worrisome considering Las Vegas leads the WNBA in 3-point shooting at 36.7 percent.
The Aces were able to overcome their early sloppiness in the first meeting between the teams this season, rallying to an 80-75 win at Minnesota on June 16. Kayla Thornton scored seven of her 22 points in a game-ending 14-3 tear and Cambage contributed eight of her 14 in the fourth quarter.