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September 11, 2022

Becky Hammon

Las Vegas Aces

Game 1: Postgame

Las Vegas Aces 67, Connecticut Sun 64

BECKY HAMMON: Obviously a battle. First half, I thought we talked about a lot of stuff and did zero of it, and then third and fourth, they did, and they did it very well.

So obviously had a rough night offensively. Give credit to their defense and give credit to us missing. I thought it was a little bit of both. But that's a tough team. This is where they like the score to be, and we'll go back, look at the film and make some adjustments.

Happy that we won. It's better than losing (laughter) but there's a lot of things that we can do better.

Q. You and I sat yesterday and we were tossing and turning about Dearica, she comes in and gives you ten blue-collar minutes, and I felt like that was the spark, down six and she comes out up four. Please comment on Dearica.

BECKY HAMMON: She was phenomenal. She was ready to go. I just got to the point where I was like, my biggest, baddest beast is sitting over there. I've just got to throw her in. They want to play a rough game; she's my girl.

So kudos to her being locked in, and probably even ready to go more mentally than anything. That's a tough situation. She has not played a lot of minutes, and to just come in and be super solid gives us a lot of flexibility. You saw we went super big on that last defensive possession.

Really, I'm just pulling strings trying to get a W, that's all I'm doing.

Q. You talked about just playing consistent as far as defensively, you guys really stepped it up especially in the fourth quarter, and A'ja really got physical, which seemed like it set everything else off leading to the win. How do you get that consistency for four quarters in Game 2?

BECKY HAMMON: Comes from them. I can try to push and prepare all the right ways but at the end of the day, they have to decide they are going to go out and do it, and they did. What did they have, 26? 26 in the second half? In the WNBA, that's hard work. And they just dug in.

We ramped up our physicality. It felt like we had to get punched in the face before we reacted, and then once -- you know, you can take a little stinger, and then all of a sudden, have your attention, and they woke up.

That's a team that, like, at the end of the day they play so hard the entire game. They are relentless. That team is relentless, and so you can never let your foot off the gas.

Q. Was there anything specific talked about at halftime that you think lit a fire under them?

BECKY HAMMON: Oh, I was lit (laughter). I was lit. Because everything we had talked about, we didn't do any of it. And true to form, they just step up and do it then. I'm like -- like I said, I don't even yell in my real life.

But when you feel so strongly about how you have to play a certain way, and I feel very strongly offensively and defensively about how we have to play. You know, when you go out there and you don't execute it, it's frustrating. But at the end of the day they know it. They are smart. They get it.

But they had beat us in every hustle category, and that can't happen. You can't lose a championship or a game or a quarter on hustle. That can never be the case.

Q. Off the hustle categories, 13 offensive rebounds for them today. Offensive rebounds were a big problem in the Seattle series, too. Is it their size or something else?

BECKY HAMMON: Size is a part of it but it's about mentality. It's about being intentional. It's about being purposeful; when the shot goes up, you go find a body and you put yours on it, and then go grab the ball. Some of the greatest rebounders ever in the history of the game, Rebekkah Brunson was small. She was a monster, because she had a mindset. You have to have a mindset that I'm going to go get the ball. I'm going to block you out -- thank God (reaching for water) I'm going to go get the ball, that's it. You don't have to be the biggest and baddest. Be smart. Play with your feet. Be intentional about what you're doing and then at the end of the day, it's all of us. It can't just be A'ja getting this and Kiah getting this. It's gotta be Plum.

I thought Plum's defense down the stretch really sparked us -- she played hard. Her shot wasn't falling and she found other ways to impact the game and at the end of the day that's what you have to have, that kind of mentality. Okay, it's not falling for me today but how can I still help my team? And she did that. They all did that in the second half.

Dearica, same thing, didn't get a sniff in the first half and comes out and completely changes the aspect of the game. That's a pro, first of all, but just being ready to go and it's a mentality. Her mentality is more of a physical mentality. That's what we needed, so that's what we told them.

Rebounding is not about size. Size certainly helps but that's not the final story. They are relentless on the glass. We feel if we can just keep it close, we'll be doing well, because that's what they do best.

Q. Following up on this line, you referenced twice, they didn't do what we discussed before the game, and you had to get lit with them in the locker room. What were the things you discussed coming into the game?

BECKY HAMMON: Points in the paint, rebounding, hustle points, transition points, second-chance points. You can go down the list; we didn't do any of them, until the second half.

Q. Were you outside yourself? Like were you more lit than usual in this halftime?


Q. Okay. Now the second one, this is just something that we've been following since this whole playoff run, Chelsea Gray's shot-making and one-on-one shots are captivating. Curious for you as a coach what's that like, encouraging her to be her but also not wanting your offense to get stagnant in those moments when she does miss.

BECKY HAMMON: Obviously I can help her better, I can be better down the stretch, we can do some things. Obviously they are very committed to taking her away.

So there's a couple things that we could do but the biggest play of the game that Chelsea made was the charge, a defensive play because that was a guaranteed two coming. They had, I believe, Thomas coming down the lane with nobody, green pastures, and that charge changed the whole game.

So I'll do a better job of helping her. We do have other options, is a good thing for me. She's just been on another planet. It's been working. I've been trying to stay out of her way, give her the ball. Tonight we struggled a little bit, and we'll be better Game 2. I already know what we're going to do. My mind is already reeling.

Q. Brionna Jones had ten points at halftime and seemed like a real problem for your defense and finished the game with 12. What was she doing in the first half that was causing problems and how did you solve that?

BECKY HAMMON: She was getting super deep catches. She had a couple pick-and-pop situations where she knocked down a 12-footer, 10-footer. She took what we gave her and we made a little bit of an adjustment at halftime with her. But after that, they went very big and we just kind of sat in that zone and just mucked it up.

I thought just bringing a lot of bodies in congestion, but I thought she got some deep touches. I thought our pick-and-roll defense was problematic from the back side, not initially, where -- and we'll go through some stuff, but schematically we handled the pick-and-roll better which helped us in the paint second half.

Q. A'ja sets the tone on the floor but how have you seen her grow this season?

BECKY HAMMON: I think coming into it you watch her on tape, this and that. A'ja Wilson, her leadership, who she is, she got "it" factor. She got "it" factor. She gets it. She understands leadership. Because I don't really know her as a person. I was watching like everybody else was watching from afar. She's got beast skills. She's a beast human. She's a good one. I'll go to battle with her any day.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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