WNBA: Becky Hammon, Aces to raise banner before Sparks rematch

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The WNBA champion Las Vegas Aces are unveiling their first championship banner and awarding the rings before Saturday night’s home opener with the Los Angeles Sparks.

And they’ll welcome back coach Becky Hammon, too.

Suspended for the first two games for comments she allegedly made to former player Dearica Hamby about her pregnancy that violated league rules regarding respect in the workplace, Hammon will be back on the bench for her team’s big night.

Her thoughts are about her team, not the spoils of last year’s success or Hamby’s return to town in a Sparks uniform.

“There’s no doubt I love this team,” Hammon said. “My girls know I love them and I’m proud and happy to be their coach. We have some pieces to build off. I think we’ve improved. I think we’ve got more depth.”

Las Vegas (2-0) rallied for a 94-85 win Thursday night in the first half of its home-and-home with Los Angeles (1-1). Jackie Young scored a game-high 30 points on 12-of-18 shooting as the Aces erased a 10-point halftime deficit with a 31-point third quarter.

But the game also showcased the Sparks’ renewed relevance in the WNBA. Playing without their best player, Nneka Ogwumike (non-COVID illness), they led by 12 points on four occasions in the first half. They forced 20 turnovers and came up with a whopping 16 steals.

“There’s no moral victories,” said first-year coach Curt Miller. “But as a foundational game and as a build process with us, I can’t be more proud of our compete and our fight.”

Chiney Ogwumike scored 19 points to pace Los Angeles and Lexie Brown added 15. Hamby was one of three players to tally 11 points and one of four players to collect at least three steals.

Hamby admits to having mixed feelings in her return to Las Vegas.

“I’m just going to try to be myself and play hard. I don’t want to try to do too much,” Hamby told Yahoo Sports. “… It will come with emotions, especially the first game there.”

Miller said there’s plenty of growth left for Los Angeles. Two key players, forward Azura Stevens (back) and guard Jasmine Thomas (knee), have yet to see action. Thomas is said to be closer to returning to game action than Stevens.

–Field Level Media

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