Jackie Young and A'ja Wilson combined for 60 points to lead the Las Vegas Aces to a 103-99 victory over the Phoenix Mercury Thursday. The much-needed win snapped the two-time defending WNBA champion's three-game losing streak. 

Wilson scored 25-plus points for the eighth straight game. The two-time MVP has surpassed Tina Charles' WNBA record of seven consecutive games with 25 or more points. 

“I asked the group, ‘How are you wired when things get hard? I think Jackie Young kind of told me exactly,” said coach Becky Hammon during Thursday's postgame press conference.

“She's wired when things get hard.” 

The first quarter was a struggle for the back-to-back champions, who were down by 16 points at the end of the quarter. However, the electrifying and historic comeback in the second frame left social media buzzing. The Aces scored a league-record 42 points to turn things around after their slow start. 

“Today, I just got here for a little bit. I was feeling it and got a couple of open looks,” said Jackie Young after the game at the Footprint Center. 

Young, AKA “The Silent Assassin,” led the way in the historic quarter with seven threes, helping the team lock down the record for the most 3-pointers in a quarter (10). It's also a career-high for Young: 21 points in a single quarter. 

“So this was you tired?” Aces guard Sydney Colson joked during the postgame presser. 

Young is still trying to bounce back from being sick. 

“I like to be at a hundred percent, being never tired. So being a little tired is weird for me,” Young added. 

It's fair to say the recently announced Paris 2024 Olympian is feeling better. That 21-point quarter stretched to a final score of 34, another career-high for the star athlete. 

Colson, who had sporadic play time all season, was a delightful addition to the second quarter. She put up a quick 3-pointer the second she stepped off the bench. 

While the win didn't solidify the Aces' spot in the Commissioner's Cup, it did bring back the winning spirit everyone had been missing. 

Las Vegas' road to the championship full of speed bumps

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The Aces–and their fan base—are used to winning. The defending champions have not experienced a three-game skid since 2019. But this year, there are different circumstances. 

The obvious: Chelsea Gray remains out of play. On Wednesday, the Aces camp released a hopeful status report for the Phoenix Mercury game. Gray was listed as questionable for her lower leg injury. The Point Gawd has been out due to her injury since the end of the 2023 Finals against the Liberty, which the Aces lost. Of course, Las Vegas came out on top as the eventual WNBA champs. But it was a sign of what was to come this season. 

To help fill the gaps Gray has left, both guards Kelsey Plum and Young have had to step up their game, especially in the paint. 

“Her workload is so much more now,” Hammon said after Thursday's victorious meeting against Phoenix. “The balancing act between scoring and distributing. She's going to walk that line, even when Chelsea comes back. She's going to have to walk that line.”

Young has played the role well. 

“This is definitely a different role for me,” she said Thursday. “The ball's in my hands a lot more. So, just trying to make the right decision, make the right reads whether that's me scoring or getting my teammates involved.” 

Against the Mercury, The Silent Assassin did both: 34 points, eight rebounds, four assists, AND a steal! Young was balling, all while being sick. To recall, the guard was a little under the weather last week ahead of the Dallas Wings matchup. Her performance and gameplay have been impacted since. 

“My wind isn't where it was,” she said after the Merc game on Thursday. “But that's how it is whenever you're sick. So, just try to come back and get your legs back.” 

In addition, Plum is dealing with personal business that could impact her play, however minor. It's been hard for the team to find a rhythm and stay in it. But they are the champs for a reason. The team has and will prove time and time again that they're just built like that. 

Aces have intense rematch ahead vs. Liberty

The Aces' structure will be tested once again on Saturday when the two-time WNBA champions play the very same team that almost took the ring from them: the Liberty. 

It will be the first time the team has met since the 2024 WNBA Finals. The Aces won their second consecutive league championship in a four-game win over New York last October. As mentioned, that was without Chelsea Gray in the decisive Game 4. Candace Parker and Center Kiah Stokes were also out in the final game of the finals. 

But it's a new season, folks. Though the Aces are hot after halting their three-game skid, the Liberty are riding a seven-game winning streak. But, with the lessons learned and the acknowledgment from Hammon that “no one is going to lay down and just let you take it,” the Aces appear to be ready for the next big challenge. 

“We definitely have some things we can still improve on, but we're starting to see little glimpses of what we can be this year,” Hammon said. 

And the Silent Assassin is ready to be loud where needed. 

“I need the rebounding, the points, distributing, the defense. I really put a ton of responsibility on her, and she's ready. She's ready. As you can see,” Hammon said of Young. 

The Aces return to Las Vegas this weekend. They will then play the Liberty at Michelob ULTRA Arena on Saturday at 12 PM PST.