WNBA All-Stars Light Up Las Vegas
Some of the biggest names in basketball hit Sin City for the 16th annual WNBA All-Star Game on Saturday afternoon at Mandalay Bay Events Center, home of the Las Vegas Aces.
Earlier in the week, team captains Elena Delle Donne of the Washington Mystics and A’ja Wilson of the Aces drafted players regardless of conference in just the second all-star game with the new format.
The Lynx had three or more players participating in the all-star game for a league-leading seventh time. Representing the Minnesota Lynx as reserves on Team Wilson were Sylvia Fowles, Odyssey Sims, and Napheesa Collier, who was selected as a substitute for the injured Wilson.
This was Fowles’ sixth overall and third consecutive trip to the game. Sims made her first appearance, as did Collier who was the only rookie to be selected. The last time the Lynx sent a rookie to the big game was in 2011, the year Maya Moore went on to become the second player in league history to win Rookie of the Year and a WNBA title.
This year’s game featured a few experimental rule changes including a 20-second shot clock rather than the usual 24, and adding live-play substitutions allowing each team to tag in one player per quarter without stopping the clock.
Team Wilson took the lead early on and held onto it through the rest of the opening half. They outscored Team Delle Donne 39-23 in the first quarter. Team Delle Donne started to rally in the second quarter and cut the deficit to 77-63 by the half.
The game started to heat up in the second half, with Team Delle Donne outscoring Team Wilson 32-28 to close the gap to 105-95. Team Delle Donne had a huge fourth quarter, nearly catching all the way up, but ultimately fell to Team Wilson 129-126.
Erica Wheeler of the Indiana Fever led and all scorers with 25 points. The undrafted, first-time all-star sunk seven three-point shots and took home the coveted MVP award. Fowles scored 12 points and tallied nine rebounds. Sims added 10 points, and Collier finished with four points and two rebounds in just three minutes on the court.
The weekend festivities also featured All-Star Friday Night for the first time since 2006. First-time all-stars Shekinna Stricklen of the Connecticut Sun and Diamond DeShields of the Chicago Sky won the three-point contest and skills challenge respectively. Collier and Sims both competed in the skills challenge but were knocked out in the first round.
Collier, Fowles, and Sims will be back in action with the rest of the Lynx squad on Saturday, August 3rd. They will look to get back on track and snap a three-game losing streak on the road against the Fever. Tip-off is scheduled for 6:00 p.m.