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Improved Storm to handle significant tests against Aces

WNBA: Playoffs-Dallas Wings at Las Vegas AcesSeptember 24, 2023; Las Vegas, Nevada, USA; Las Vegas Aces center A’ja Wilson (22) shoots the ball against the Dallas Wings during game one of the 2023 WNBA Semifinals at Michelob Ultra Arena. The Aces defeated the Wings 97-83. Mandatory credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

It will be an early showdown during the WNBA’s Western Conference on Friday evening in Las Vegas.

The Seattle Storm are one of the league’s hottest teams, taking on the Las Vegas Aces, who have set the standard for what a top team looks like.

The Aces (5-2) have won three of their last four games following Wednesday night’s 95-81 road victory against the Dallas Wings, led by A’ja Wilson’s season-high 36 points.

That performance, which also included twelve rebounds and six steals, came a day after she was named Western Conference Player of the Week. Wilson became the first player in WNBA history with 35 or more points, 10 or more rebounds and five or more steals in a game.

“I try to put myself in situations that make it a little easier for my teammates,” Wilson said. “I like the flow of the game we play, the pace we have.”

The Storm (6-3) have won five straight, the last of which was an 80-62 win over visiting Phoenix on Tuesday night. Center Ezi Magbegor had 21 points and nine rebounds.

It was a big week on and off the field for Magbegor, who also signed a contract extension on Tuesday.

“I think it’s well deserved,” said Storm coach Noelle Quinn, pointing to Magbegor’s dedication and maturity. “Her leap in agility and aggressiveness starts what we do on offense.”

Magbegor, 24, is a two-time All-WNBA defensive team selection.

“Seattle is where I want to be,” Magbegor said. “It’s been my home away from home for the past five years, and I love what we’re building as a group.”

The Aces played their past three games on the road and went 2-1 in those games.

Las Vegas gets a boost from Kate Martin, a rookie guard from Iowa, who scores 4.3 points per game with 3.3 rebounds and 1.7 assists.

“She’s going to do all those little things that really complement our top scorers,” Aces coach Becky Hammon said. “Now she sometimes ends up as a benefactor.”

The team’s point production against Dallas was the second highest of the season.

The Storm could have second-leading scorer Nneka Ogwumike, who is averaging 18.7 points and 7.3 rebounds, back in action. She missed Tuesday evening’s match after being punctured in the eye during training a day earlier.

“Without Nneka, we saw people step up and take on different roles,” storm ranger Skylar Duggins-Smith said.

Even with the winning streak, the Storm can see areas that could use improvement.

“We can do better if we finish the quarters,” Duggins-Smith said.

This will be the first of the Storm’s two trips to Las Vegas in the span of less than two weeks.

–Field-level media

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