The Las Vegas Aces aren’t going to do this again, are they?
The Aces had a shot at another late game-winner, and though the shot didn’t go in, it did stir up another controversial ending that has Aces coach Bill Laimbeer saying referees “made a conscious decision” not to call his timeout request.
Laimbeer: WNBA should investigate no timeout
As the shot clock was running out, the Mystics’ Elena Delle Donne took a hook shot that 6-foot-8 Liz Cambage easily collected in the air. There were six seconds left in the game and Las Vegas had one timeout remaining, sparking flashes of Dearica Hamby swooping in and tossing up the jaw-dropping game-winner against the Chicago Sky to get to this stage.
Cambage got the ball to the hot-handed Kelsey Plum, who tried to draw a foul and got neither that nor the bucket.
Here's the final play from Game 1 of Mystics-Aces. Bill Laimbeer wanted a timeout, but refs probably could not hear through the crowd. Kelsey Plum tried to draw a foul on Elena Delle Donne, but no call.— Hoop District (@HoopDistrictDC) September 18, 2019
Kristi Toliver put it best: "I'm glad [Dearica] Hamby didn't have the ball." pic.twitter.com/kTd74P28jN
Laimbeer, also the Aces general manager, was clearly seen on ESPN’s broadcast pleading with officials. Initially it seemed to be about Plum.
He explained in the postgame presser he wanted to know why he called a timeout and it wasn’t granted.
“I was standing right next to the referee by design; as soon as they missed the shot, I would be yelling, ‘Timeout, timeout, timeout!’ ” Laimbeer said. “They missed the shot, we got the rebound, and I yelled it five times — [a referee] even looked at me when I was yelling and made a conscious decision not to call a timeout. I do not understand why. I think the league should make a little bit of an investigation to understand why that timeout was not called. . . .
“I don’t know if [Delle Donne] was fouling when I called it or not. I just know in the last couple seconds of the game, weird stuff happened.”
The Aces were in prime position to steal game 1 from the Mystics, who looked off in their return from a nine-day break. Game 2 is Thursday at 8:30 ET on ESPN2.
Was Plum fouled?
“Should Plum even have tried it?” might be the better question. She had Hamby all alone under the basket and could have made a quick pass with two seconds on the clock rather than pull up for a shot at the circle.
Delle Donne was trailing the play and attempted to stop her momentum when Plum pulled up. She probably didn’t expect her to take that shot, either, in a two-point game.
Sky player chimes in to call it ‘karma’
The Chicago Sky could have been in Washington, D.C., on Tuesday to open the semifinal series if not for Hamby’s heroics at the close of their single-elimination second-round game. That was also controversial as it seemed there was no way Hamby didn’t step out of bounds and the WNBA didn’t review it so late in the game.
Sky head coach James Wade told The Athletic he discussed the play with the league office, arguing with screengrab evidence that Hamby stepped out of bounds. He said they told him it “didn’t look conclusive.”
Fourth-year Sky guard Jamierra Faulkner took to Twitter to say “bruh, we got robbed, that’s just that.” There was also some chirping on Instagram — a continuation from a heated regular season game — with Stefanie Dolson alleging that the Aces had the refs on their side.
Faulkner took it a step further after the Aces’ Game 1 semifinal loss in a since-deleted tweet saying “If that ain’t karma, idk what is.”
The rest of this series will be a fantastic watch. And next year’s Chicago vs. Las Vegas matchups should be circled.
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