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Gray, Aces rebound with victory at Minnesota Lynx

When coach Becky Hammon called a timeout with 6:22 remaining and the Aces clinging to a one-point lead, it wasn’t to draw up a play or make a major tactical adjustment.

“I said, ‘I need the composed Vegas team, I need that team,’” Hammon said.

Her message resonated. The Aces re-grouped to close out 91-85 victory over the Minnesota Lynx on Friday night at Target Center in Minneapolis.

Point guard Chelsea Gray scored 21 points and helped the Aces fend off the surging Lynx, who had won three of their past four games. The Aces helped offset a 24-point performance by Lynx reserve wing Rachel Banham.

“We’ve been a little inconsistent, up-and-down.” Gray said. “But at the end of the day, we’re trying to hold each other accountable so I think we’re in a good place as a team.

“But we have to be able to translate that onto the court and that’s been our conversations throughout our meetings and games.”

The Aces play a second game against the Lynx at 4 p.m. Sunday in Target Center for the final game of their four-game road trip.

Here are three takeaways from Friday’s game:

1.Gray leads offense

The Aces opened on a 15-2 run, triggered by Gray. The Bay Area native had her mid-range jumper working against the Lynx (6-15), methodically picking her spots.

Gray scored six in the first quarter, and finished with a season-high 21 points. It’s the first time she’s led the team in scoring this season, making 10 of 12 field goals. The eighth-year guard also had six rebounds, five assists and two steals.

“Their pick-n-roll coverage, they were changing some things up,” Gray said. “We were just engaged at the point of attack offensively.”

2. McBride contained again

Lynx wing Kayla McBride entered Friday’s game averaging 14.2 points. McBride, who was drafted by the San Antonio Stars and played three seasons in Las Vegas after the franchise moved, hasn’t had much success this season against her old team this season and Friday was no different.

The Aces (15-5) limited McBride to seven points on 2-of-10 shooting. In the two prior meetings she scored 11 and 0 points.

Aces guard Kelsey Plum, who scored 18 points, credited fourth-year wing Jackie Young for her defense on McBride and the rest of the team for covering whenever she slipped away.

“I thought the bigs were super present coming off ball-screens,” Plum said. “You’ve got to guard McBride with a team. It’s not an individual task.”

3. Down the stretch

Following the Aces’ 88-78 loss against the Seattle Storm on Wednesday, Hammon wasn’t happy with the Aces’ late game execution. Despite being tied midway through the fourth quarter, the Aces struggled to run the offense and faded near the end.

“It’s going to be a constant growth pattern for us,” Hammon said.

They found themselves in a similar spot Friday. After Hammon called a timeout, the Aces outscored the Lynx 16-11.

It wasn’t perfect, but Gray was encouraged, by what she saw.

“I think they were decent,” Gray said. “We can be better,”

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

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