|Aces look for win over Fever to stay in playoff hunt|
With four games left in the regular season for the Las Vegas Aces, their postseason hopes are on life support. Entering the weekend, Las Vegas is 2 1/2 games behind Dallas for the eighth and final playoff spot.
Dallas has lost six straight and has five games left, including an Aug. 17 date with the Aces in Texas.
Until then, Las Vegas (12-18) has to take care of its own business.
The Aces have lost five straight, including last week's controversial game after a 25-hour cross-country trek to Washington, D.C. They haven't won since they defeated Indiana on July 22, yet coach Bill Laimbeer believes his team can go 4-0 and still sneak into the eighth and final playoff spot.
Las Vegas begins its final push against the last-place Fever on Saturday at the Mandalay Bay Events Center on the Las Vegas Strip.
"We really have to regroup and come back together, get our mentality right," A'ja Wilson told the Las Vegas Review-Journal after Las Vegas lost to Minnesota on Thursday. "We really can't hang our head down about this loss, especially when we're trying to make this playoff push."
The Fever could be a little tired. They lost 94-74 Friday night on the road at Phoenix. Rookie Kelsey Mitchell scored 20 points in the loss.
Indiana shot only 34.1 percent and trailed by 25 points heading into the fourth quarter.
Despite the disappointing season, Fever head coach Pokey Chatman sees a silver lining.
"You get your head beat in but you're learning lessons under the lights," she opined. "Some of the young ones are learning how to play in the moment, but we know it's going to take asserted effort from all."
The Aces have felt some of the same growing pains, with one big difference.
The Aces have beaten the Fever both times the teams have met this season and the rookie was the difference in an overtime win on June 12. In the rematch on July 22, Wilson's play inspired her teammates to victory.
In the first game, the Aces scored a season-high in a 101-92 overtime win in Indianapolis. Wilson's dominating performance in that game -- 35 points and 13 rebounds -- left many in awe and gave people a glimpse of the future of the league.
"She's a very dynamic, hungry player and she has the mindset of a five-year veteran," Chatman said, adding "she's a pretty good player."
Laimbeer said he had been expecting Wilson to have a defining game, and she didn't disappoint.
"I (was) waiting for a breakout game like this one. I told my coaches before that game that it's time for her to step forward and have a big breakout game. I actually said I wanted her to get 35 and 15, but she almost came pretty close to that."
Wilson was not nearly as dominating in the second matchup between the Fever and Aces -- an 84-78 Las Vegas win on July 22.
But McBride stepped up, as she has done most of the year, and scored 16 points to take some of the offensive load off Wilson. She became the 111th player in league history to reach 2,000 points in just her fifth year.
"I try to just be a leader throughout the game," McBride said. "I feel like I have enough experience now to know how to win games, when to speed it up, bring it back, and get everyone else involved."
The midseason addition of veteran Cappie Pondexter can't be measured in wins and losses for the Fever.
Her addition has taken "some of the pressure off of the players who have only being playing professional ball for a couple of months," Chatman said.
Despite having just five wins this season, the Aces best not be looking past Indiana. The Fever own wins against second-place Atlanta (a 32-point victory), defending WNBA champion Minnesota (at Minnesota) and against the Los Angeles Sparks (also on the road).