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Dearica Hamby scored 24 points and the Las Vegas Aces won in Becky Hammon’s first game as coach, beating the short-handed Phoenix Mercury 106-88 on Friday night to open the WNBA season.
Phoenix was without Brittney Griner as she nears the three-month mark of her detention in Russia with no timetable for her release.
Hammon replaced Bill Laimbeer with the Aces after serving as an assistant coach for the NBA’s San Antonio Spurs since 2014.
Kelsey Plum added 20 points, six rebounds and seven assists for Seattle, and Jackie Young also had 20 points.
Skylar Diggins-Smith scored 12 of her 25 points in the third quarter for Phoenix. Diana Taurasi was held to nine points on 3-of-11 shooting.
SPARKS 98, SKY 91
CHICAGO (AP) — Jordin Canada had 21 points and eight assists in her Los Angeles debut, Nneka Ogwumike added 19 points and the Sparks beat defending champion Chicago.
Ogwumike made a jumper in the lane with 51.5 seconds left to extend Los Angeles’ lead to 94-91, and she deflected a pass at the other end that led to two free throws by Canada. Chicago turned it over again and Canada sealed it with two more free throws.
Canada also made three key free throws to tie it at 88 with 1.5 seconds left in regulation after getting fouled on a 3-point attempt.
Key offseason acquisition Liz Cambage added 12 points in 24 minutes for Los Angeles. Lexie Brown and Chennedy Carter also scored 12 points apiece.
Dana Evans scored a career-high 24 points in her debut with Chicago. Candace Parker had 21 points, six rebounds and six assists, but also six turnovers.
STORM 97, LYNX 74
SEATTLE (AP) — Jewell Loyd scored 17 points, Sue Bird added 11 points and nine assists in what could be her final season and Seattle returned to its home building with an emphatic victory over Minnesota.
The 41-year-old Bird started her 19th season playing for Seattle with her 550th game. She made a three 3-pointers and spent most of the fourth quarter as a spectator after Seattle outscored Minnesota 34-14 in the third quarter.
Seattle returned to its home arena after three years of being nomads. Seattle spent the 2019 and 2021 seasons playing in venues around the Puget Sound region while Climate Pledge Arena was under construction. The 2020 season was played in the WNBA bubble in Florida.
Sylvia Fowles led Minnesota with 16 points.
MYSTICS 84, FEVER 70
WASHINGTON (AP) — Elena Delle Donne had 21 points and nine rebounds in her first season-opening game since 2018 to help Washington beat Indiana.
Natasha Cloud added 17 points and six assists, and Ariel Atkins had 15 points.
Kelsey Mitchell led Indiana with 18 points. NaLyssa Smith, the second overall pick last month in the WNBA draft, had 13 points and 13 rebounds.