Weekend recap: Griner reaches blocks milestone, Aces get first win

Photo Credit: David Joles/Minneapolis Star-Tribune

Scoring baskets in the paint against the Phoenix Mercury has never been an easy task – particularly with the imposing presence of No. 42 waiting to swat any would-be lay-ins to another portion of Maricopa County.

On Friday when the Mercury visited the Minnesota Lynx at the Target Center, Brittney Griner achieved a lofty milestone by becoming the fourth-quickest player in WNBA or NBA history to reach 500 career blocks.

Not only did Griner reach the 500-blocks plateau in the Mercury’s contest against Minnesota, but it came in a winning effort for Phoenix as they earned a 95-85 win over the Lynx.

She had three rejections for the game along with 21 points while Diana Taurasi led all scorers with 29 in addition to 24 courtesy of DeWanna Bonner.

Despite 25 points from Maya Moore, 16 points and 11 rebounds from Sylvia Fowles, and 15 from Tanisha Wright off the bench, the Mercury’s big three was simply too much for Cheryl Reeve’s Lynx on Friday night.

Photo Credit: Scott Varley/Riverside Press-Enterprise

The beat continued for the Lynx on Sunday afternoon when they traveled to Staples Center to face their arch rival Los Angeles Sparks in front of a sellout crowd of over 13,000.

Los Angeles already has one victory over Minnesota from the opening weekend of the season when Chelsea Gray made a game-winning layup at the buzzer for a 77-76 win over the Lynx at Target Center.

The Sparks did not need to worry about needing a buzzer-beater as they picked up a 77-69 win at home against Minnesota.

When Los Angeles played the Lynx at Target Center, they defeated them without Candace Parker. She was able to suit up for this game against the Lynx and dropped 19 points and grabbed 10 rebounds. This was along with 15 points from Gray and 12 each via Nneka Ogwumike and Odyssey Sims.

Moore finished with 18 points, Fowles contributed 14, and Danielle Robinson added 12 off the bench.

Photo Credit: Sean D. Elliot/The Day

Where the 2015 season has, so far, been one of struggles for the Lynx, out in Connecticut, the outlook could not be any more “Sun”-ny.

Most WNBA pundits predicted that the Connecticut Sun would build on the unbelievable season that they had in 2017. One wonders if any of those pundits predicted for the Sun to be the last undefeated W team standing.

If the playoffs were to begin today, Connecticut would be the top seed and earn the automatic bye into the semifinals along with home court in the WNBA Finals. The Lynx would not even qualify.

Along with that, the Sun’s latest victory was not only a win, but a blowout of the Washington Mystics on the road with the result being an 88-64 score.

Behind 25 points from Jasmine Thomas, 15 off the bench for Alex Bentley, and 10 rebounds from Courtney Williams, Connecticut managed to remain without a blemish on its 2018 record.

The Mystics played sans Elena Delle Donne against Connecticut, but with Ariel Atkins who scored 14 points to lead Washington. Tianna Hawkins and Monique Currie each scored ten.

Photo Credit: Richard Brian/Las Vegas Review-Journal

Another team that picked up a win over the Mystics – the Las Vegas Aces, which was also their first victory in franchise history since the relocation from San Antonio.
Fittingly, the Aces’ initial triumph came at home at the Mandalay Bay Events Center by way of an 85-73 decision.

Ten years from now, that will be a trivia question – who did the Aces defeat for their first win and what was the final score.

One also wonder is the broadcasters will mention who led all scorers for that game. That would be A’ja Wilson, who continued her early Rookie of the Year campaign with a 26-point, 12-rebound outing. She also had plenty of help from her bench in the form of Dearica Hamby, who scored 14 points and grabbed four rebounds as well as Kelsey Bone who had 10 points, five rebounds, and three assists.

Washington leading scorer also came off the bench – Currie who finished her game with 24 points.

Ironically, Las Vegas and Washington also happen to be the two cities squaring off in the NHL Stanley Cup Finals. The Capitals currently have a 2-1 series lead over the Vegas Golden Knights, but perhaps Las Vegas’ basketball team getting the better of D.C.’s could be an omen for the hockey finals? We shall see…

If the Aces’ Wilson gets tabbed by W fans and pundits as the clubhouse leader so far for the Rookie of the Year award, Kia Nurse may have reason to say “not so fast.”

The New York Liberty might as well write a big “thank you” card to the rest of the WNBA for letting Nurse fall in their hands at the 10th overall pick in this year’s draft. That 10th overall pick came off the bench and dropped 34 points on the Indiana Fever in the Liberty’s 87-81 overtime victory at Indy.

Performances such as that will only increase the chatter around Gotham that Nurse is playing her way, offensively and defensively, into New York’s starting lineup.

Along with Nurse’s 34, Tina Charles scored 23 and Shavonte Zellous tallied 17. Kiah Stokes also grabbed 12 rebounds. Their next game will be Tuesday vs. the Mercury at their usual home court at Madison Square Garden. It appears that since Brittany Boyd and Sugar Rodgers were not listed on the Liberty’s injury report that both will make their returns to the team just as the team itself makes its return to MSG.

Kelsey Mitchell led the Fever with 26 points.

By: Akiem Bailum (@AkiemBailum on Twitter, Instagram)

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