Las Vegas Aces guard Chelsea Gray finished with 16 points and five assists in a 97-78 victory over the Los Angeles Sparks on Wednesday, July 12. 2023 (Courtesy Photo)

All-Star captain A’ja Wilson tallied 16 of her game-high 25 points in the first period to lead the Las Vegas Aces to a dominating 97-78 win over the Los Angeles Sparks on Wednesday night at Arena.

Wilson added 12 rebounds and two blocks and recorded her 13th double-double of the year while helping Las Vegas pick up their 19th win in 21 total games.

Fellow Aces All-Star guards, Kelsey Plum, Chelsea Gray and Jackie Young each finished in double figures. Plum scored 21 points, five rebounds, four assists and added a season-best five steals. Young finished with 14 points and five assists while Gray had 16 points and five assists for Las Vegas.

Aces forward Candace Parker missed her third consecutive game due to an ankle injury.

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Los Angeles (7-13) dropped its sixth game in a row with the loss and have lost nine of their last 11 games.

“We haven’t quit,” Sparks coach Curt Miller added. “We keep fighting and I think there’s a lot of growth from (Wednesday night) that we can take from. Azurá Stevens was great on the glass, her best game in a Sparks uniform.”

Stevens finished with a season-high 22 points and tied her career-best with 12 rebounds for the Sparks, and Nneka Ogwumike also added a double-double with 20 points and 11 rebounds on 10-of-15 shooting.

“The ups and downs always come but you always have to have the perspective of the bigger goal,” Ogwumike continued. “You have to have the perspective of the process and not arrest yourself to results and that’s something that I think we’re learning a lot about ourselves.”

Wilsons 16 points and five rebounds in the first helped the Aces jump out to an early 32-15 lead through 10 minutes of play as the Sparks had no answer for the former MVP.

“Scheme-wise, I thought we could rotate to her harder as we tried to disrupt Jackie Young early in the game. It left us at times rotating off of A’ja and we have to rotate from behind,” Miller said. “Some of our rotations and schemes were a little bit late. Those are things that we can teach our team through film and show them but again you have to tip your hat to some of the shots that A’ja Wilson makes.”

The Aces led by as many as 26 in the second period after a Young floater but the Sparks used a 10-1 run in the third quarter to get as close as 55-41 after Karlie Samuelson made a three-pointer with 7:17 left.

Las Vegas quickly responded with a 7-1 run of their own to lift their lead to 62-43 with 4:47 left as the Aces went on to outscore the Sparks 25-11 in the third.

The Sparks trailed 80-52 to begin the fourth period and ultimately were unable to make a run resulting in a 97-78 defeat.

“We want to see each other do well and we want to see each other fight out there on the court and be aggressive and also stand in our value,” Ogwumike said. “I think a lot of us come out here with a small bit of underestimation on an individual level and us realizing we’re here and we deserve to be here and putting that together into a team that is confident in what we do and how we do it.”

The Sparks will have one week off for All-Star break before returning to face the Minnesota Lynx (9-11) on Thursday at 5:00 p.m.