All-NBA guards Damian Lillard and DeMar Derozan sat courtside, their feet on the hardwood, to watch the Aces play the Connecticut Sun at Mandalay Bay Events Center.
But with all due respect, A’ja Wilson and Kayla McBride were the two best players on the floor Saturday night.
Wilson had 34 points and 14 rebounds, and McBride scored 27 to lead the Aces to a 94-90 comeback victory over the Connecticut Sun.
The 3,363 in attendance stood after the game and applauded Aces, who pulled off their eighth win of the season. That’s as victories many as all of last season — when they were the San Antonio Stars — and they have 14 games remaining.
“We made some very fine plays,” Aces coach Bill Laimbeer said. “The fans appreciated it. It was a good experience, not only for our players for our players but for our franchise to come back with a win like that.
”Our two horses went off again. There’s no question where our bread is buttered. However, there were some very fine performances tonight.”
Among them was the play of Kelsey Plum, who had nine points, 10 assists, no turnovers and a crucial 3-pointer late in the fourth quarter.
Or Moriah Jefferson had nine points, five assists and no turnovers in limited minutes as she works her way back from a knee injury.
Or by JiSu Park, who had nine rebounds and a key backtap to Wilson, who secured an offensive rebound en route to a critical 3-point play in the final minute.
Essentially, it required the totality of the team to overcome the Sun, especially after a dismal third quarter in which defense was optional for the Aces (8-12).
Wilson had 18 points and nine rebounds in the first 20 minutes, helping the Aces to a 41-40 halftime lead. But it vanished, quickly, when Connecticut (10-9) shot 76.5 percent from the field and scored 36 points in the third quarter, causing a 75-65 deficit entering the fourth quarter.
“We know basketball is a game of runs,” Wilson said, “And we know Connecticut, when they get going, like coach says, they’re a front-running team.”
But all that front-running ended in the fourth quarter.
Laimbeer turned to Wilson, McBride, Plum, Jefferson and Park and that group, collectively shut down the Sun.
The role players played their roles, and Wilson and McBride took over, scoring nine points apiece to close out Connecticut.
“I was just really proud of how we fought back,” McBride said. “That’s how we have to play to win games.”