Las Vegas Aces edge Minnesota Lynx after mental mistake

Las Vegas Aces forward A'ja Wilson (22) lays up the ball between Minnesota Lynx guard Moriah Je ...

Minnesota Lynx forward Jessica Shepard hit the shot.

As time expired during Sunday’s game between the Aces and Lynx at Michelob Ultra Arena, Shepard launched a contested midrange jumper. Her shot rattled in as the shot clock sounded.

Shepard’s only problem? The Aces were leading by three, not two.

“That’s on me at the end of the day,” Shepard said. “I obviously didn’t realize it was a three-point game.”

The Aces outlasted the Lynx 96-95 for their fourth straight victory. Forward A’ja Wilson scored 25 points and guard Kelsey Plum 21 as Las Vegas rallied from a 14-point third-quarter deficit.

“We need to be in these types of situations,” coach Becky Hammon said. “That’s how you become battle-tested.”

The Aces continue their homestand at 7 p.m. Tuesday when they meet the Chicago Sky, the defending WNBA champions.

Here are three takeaways from Sunday’s victory:

1. Third-quarter explosion

The Aces (13-2) shot poorly for most of the first half. They scored 39 points in the half, shooting 35.9 percent overall and 21.4 percent on 3-pointers.

“We can give a lot more than what we did in the first half,” Wilson said. “That wasn’t us. The feeling wasn’t good.”

The second half didn’t start much better when forward Nikolina Milic hit a 3-pointer 17 seconds into the half to give the Lynx (3-13) a 14-point lead.

But the Aces then got their wakeup call. They rattled off a 20-7 run in the first five minutes of the half, punctuated by a 3-pointer from wing Jackie Young. Plum (13 points) and Wilson (nine points) led the comeback.

“When we take stuff personal, with the competitive level we have, we get all on the same page,” Wilson said.

2. Gray steadies the ship

While Wilson and Plum carried most of the scoring load, point guard Chelsea Gray kept the team afloat with one of her best games of the season.

“She is a pick-and-roll professor,” Hammon said. “She just sees things — does things — you can’t teach.”

Gray had 16 points and nine assists. She found teammates under the basket, pushed the ball in transition and hit trailing teammates for easy 3s.

The Aces outscored the Lynx 20-3 on fast-break points, mainly because of Gray’s steadying presence.

“What my teammates expect of me is to control the tempo,” Gray said.

3. Size bothers Aces again

The Aces defeated Minnesota 93-87 a month ago but were outrebounded by three. They were outrebounded 44-33 Sunday, with Shepard grabbing a game-high 19 rebounds. The Lynx had 10 offensive rebounds and outscored the Aces 13-2 on second-chance points.

Minnesota controlled the glass despite playing without 6-foot-6-inch star forward Sylvia Fowles, out indefinitely with a cartilage injury in her right knee. The 36-year-old, a four-time Olympic gold medalist who is retiring after the season, was honored before the game by the Aces.

Contact reporter Andy Yamashita at ayamashita@reviewjournal.com. Follow @ANYamashita on Twitter.