Sole possession of second place is on the line Thursday when the surging Las Vegas Aces look to make it six straight wins at the expense of the Minnesota Lynx.
Both teams are 6-2, and the winner will be one-half game behind the Seattle Storm. Minnesota suffered one of its two losses to the Storm, while the Aces will play them for the first time Aug. 22 and square off again five days later.
Las Vegas pulled away from Indiana in the second half, outscoring the Fever 38-20 in the final two quarters to win 98-79. Angel McCoughtry scored 20 points on 9-of-10 shooting as the Aces had six players in double figures and picked up A'ja Wilson, who did score 12 points but shot 5 of 17.
Coach Bill Laimbeer noted his team picked up on his halftime defensive adjustments as Indiana shot 61 percent in the first half ' which dipped to 47.8 percent overall while limiting the Fever to 3 of 18 from 3-point range for the contest.
"We switched a lot and took away (Candice) Dupree's wide-open looks that she had in the first half," he told the Las Vegas Review-Journal. "We kept them on the perimeter and took away their easy drives to the basket. They had to shoot jump shots, and we got the rebounds."
McCoughtry, who missed virtually all of last season due to a knee injury, continues to be the frontrunner for WNBA Comeback Player of the Year. She is averaging 15.3 points while shooting 57.3 percent, including 54.5 percent from beyond the arc.
The Aces have not won six in a row since a 12-game run in 2012 when the franchise was located in San Antonio.
Minnesota avoided back-to-back losses in the "wubble" for the first time by stifling defending WNBA champion Washington 68-48 on Tuesday. Sylvia Fowles had 16 points and 13 rebounds as the Lynx held an opponent under 50 points for the first time since 2013.
Crystal Dangerfield scored 10 of her 12 points in the opening two quarters as Minnesota opened a 21-point halftime lead and overcame a franchise-worst, four-point third quarter by holding Washington to four points in the final 10 minutes. The Lynx limited the Mystics to 29.5 percent shooting and 4 of 21 from 3-point range.
"We weren't happy," coach Cheryl Reeve told the Star Tribune. "And we were 11th in defensive rebounding. So that was our focus. If you want to be a special team, you can't be 11th in defensive rebounding, period. You can't be easy to . We talked about that."
Fowles, who sat out Sunday's loss with a sore calf, notched her fourth double-double in six games, and Minnesota is 5-1 when she suits up.
The Aces won the first two meetings last year before the Lynx stormed to a 98-77 win behind 23 points apiece from Napheesa Collier and current Aces guard Danielle Robinson.