Las Vegas Aces lose three in row for first time since 2019

Natisha Hiedeman's stuff denies Kelsey Plum (0:18)

Natisha Hiedeman's stuff denies Kelsey Plum (0:18)

For the first time since 2019, the Las Vegas Aces have lost three games in a row. But the two-time defending champions said they are still betting on themselves to get back to top-tier status in the WNBA, even though they are currently 5-5.

"This is a long, long, long season," Aces star A'ja Wilson said after Las Vegas 100-86 loss to the Minnesota Lynx on Tuesday. "I'm not going to press the panic button. I'm still going to bet on us. I know exactly what's in that locker room."

The Aces had four players named to the U.S. Olympic 5x5 team Tuesday: Wilson, Jackie Young, Kelsey Plum and Chelsea Gray. But Gray, who was injured in the WNBA Finals last year, has yet to play this season and her absence has been huge. Young was back in the lineup after missing the Aces' previous game with illness, but she didn't look 100 percent.

The Aces as a team haven't looked like themselves of late, having lost four of their last five games. They lost at Atlanta on May 31, came back with a win at Dallas, but have lost to Seattle, Los Angeles and Minnesota since.

The last time Las Vegas lost three straight was Aug. 23-27, 2019, when Bill Laimbeer was still head coach. That is the second-longest span in WNBA history between single-season three-game losing streaks -- 143 games -- according to Elias Sports Bureau. The longest such streak was by the Houston Comets -- 224 games -- from the launch of the WNBA in 1997 to 2003.

The Aces next face Phoenix on Thursday, followed by a rematch of last year's WNBA Finals teams as New York visits Las Vegas (ABC, 3 p.m. Saturday).

"It's not going to get easier. It has never been easy for us," said Wilson, the Aces' most consistent player, who had 28 points and 8 rebounds Tuesday. "We're going to continue to be us, continue to grind it out."

Minnesota, now 9-3, had all five starters score in double figures and shot 55.2% overall from the field and even slightly better (55.6, 15 of 27) from 3-point range. And that's what Plum pointed to.

"It's our defense," she said of what is bothering the Aces most now. "That's what we've always hung our hat on. We've won [championships] the last two years because of defense."

Aces coach Becky Hammon, in her third year in Las Vegas, acknowledged that she has had some concerns since the season started about how the team was playing.

"We're a fun group, but losing sucks," Hammon said. "We know each other well, we've been through battles. The attention to detail ... I thought we came out and made some great steps forward offensively. And then we couldn't guard our lunch at the other end.

"Some of this is self-inflicted. We've got to learn how to stop the bleeding. This is uncomfortable. Nobody likes it. But it could be one of the best things for us.

"I don't want them thinking too much; then you get paralysis [by] analysis. We're just not being solid in our base. Just be solid defensively. We're not a very good team right now, that's just reality. But we know we can get better. I still have a lot of belief in this ballclub."