Chelsea Gray returns from injury to help Aces defeat Storm

Chelsea Gray receives standing ovation in season debut for Aces (0:43)

Chelsea Gray returns from injury and receives a warm welcome from the Las Vegas crowd as she checks in for the first time. (0:43)

LAS VEGAS -- After missing the first 12 games of the season, point guard Chelsea Gray needed just 20 seconds to record her first assist as the Las Vegas Aces welcomed her back by defeating the Seattle Storm 94-83 on Wednesday night.

Gray checked in for the first time with 1:41 remaining in the first quarter and received a thunderous ovation from the crowd at Michelob Ultra Arena.

A five-time All-Star, Gray had last played on Oct. 15, Game 3 of the 2023 WNBA finals, when she exited in the fourth quarter with a left foot injury. She then missed Game 4 when Las Vegas beat New York to clinch a second straight WNBA championship.

Gray's first official contribution to the 2024 season was an assist to Alysha Clark, who knocked down a 3-point shot from the wing with 1:21 to go in the first quarter that gave the Aces a 26-13 lead. It was the 1,500th assist of Gray's career, as she became the ninth WNBA player to reach the milestone.

Gray -- affectionately referred to as the "point gawd" by the Aces' faithful -- played 15:30 minutes, finishing with 7 assists, 4 rebounds, 2 blocks and 1 point.

After the game, Gray walked off the floor to greet her wife and son, who were celebrating her return.

"I probably went through every emotion leading up to today," Gray said. "I was a little anxious all day. It's been a long time since I've been out on that court. But the fans were amazing from the time I came out to warm up to the time I checked in the game. It was a rush and a feeling I missed a lot."

Now in her 10th WNBA season, Gray has averaged 12.4 points, 3.1 rebounds and 5.0 assists for her career. Last season, she averaged 15.3 points, 7.3 assists and 4.0 rebounds in leading the Aces to back-to-back titles.

Prior to Gray's return Wednesday night, the Aces had lost five of their past seven games.

"Felt like my heart," Aces coach Becky Hammon said of hearing the crowd erupt for Gray's return. "She's the leader of our team. I thought she did a wonderful job too."

Gray joined the Aces ahead of the 2021 WNBA season after spending five seasons with the Los Angeles Sparks and was the 2022 WNBA Finals MVP.

Gray, who also won Olympic gold in Tokyo, will join the U.S. women's national basketball team at the Paris Games next month.

Five Aces players scored in double figures Wednesday, led by Jackie Young's 31 points. A'ja Wilson added 27 points and 9 rebounds.

"It was great to be able to pass [Young] the basketball and be out there on the floor," Gray said. "That girl good!"

The Aces (7-6) return to the court Saturday against the league-leading Connecticut Sun (13-1).