Alyssa Thomas notches 1st triple-double in Finals history as Sun force Game 4 vs. Aces

History was considerable as the Connecticut Sun fully flipped the script after a cross-country highway journey and quick turnaround.

Alyssa Thomas notched the primary triple-double in WNBA Finals history as the Sun amped up their offense in help of their usually imposing protection to stave off elimination with a 105-76 win over the Las Vegas Aces in Game 3 at Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville , Connecticut, on Thursday. Game 4 is Sunday (4 pm ET, ESPN) in Connecticut.

Thomas, who was named to the All-WNBA second crew earlier than tipoff, had 16 factors, 15 rebounds and 11 assists as the Sun moved to 4-0 in elimination video games this postseason. Thomas has three profession triple-doubles with the primary two coming earlier this season (July 22 towards Minnesota and Aug. 2 towards Phoenix).

“We put the ball in her fingers loads tonight, and when issues work as a coach, you’re feeling actually good that you just pushed some proper buttons,” Sun coach Curt Miller mentioned. “But she’s so unselfish. You know, her and Candace [Parker] are the 2 finest facilitating forwards in the world, and it is simply actually enjoyable to look at non-point guards share it. And tonight, she simply sprayed the ball round all night time, and it was implausible to look at.”

Jonquel Jones acquired her manner in the paint to attain 20 factors, however the tradeoff was 4 fouls, which restricted her to 25 minutes. The Sun ended the sport on a 19-0 run.

The Sun lastly discovered their photographs, and people photographs have been falling in the primary half. The Sun set a Finals report by taking pictures 82.4% in the primary quarter, which was additionally the highest-scoring first quarter in Finals history. Connecticut closed the primary quarter on a 25-4 run.

For the sport, Connecticut shot 55.8% and 53.3% (8 of 15) from 3-point vary. The Sun had 38 rebounds and 32 assists on 43 made subject objectives.

DeWanna Bonner, who had scored solely 5 factors in the primary two video games of the sequence mixed, scored 9 factors in the primary half of Game 3. She completed with 18. Her offense was sorely wanted.

Bonner additionally switched up her defensive task, attempting to decelerate the Aces’ Chelsea Gray. It labored, as Gray solely discovered success largely when Bonner was on the bench.

There have been flashes the place the Aces seemed like they might take management of the sport. Gray reeled off three straight 3-pointers close to the top of the primary half and the Aces ended the second quarter on an 8-0 run capped by Kelsey Plum’s buzzer-beater.

In the second half, although, the Sun have been the crew in management. Jackie Young led the Aces with 22 factors, whereas A’ja Wilson added 19.

The Sun had a 23-point lead in the primary half, the most important lead by both crew in the sequence (the Sun gained by a 29-point margin however that was after each benches have been emptied with the sport out of attain). Connecticut had 19 assists on 21 made subject objectives in the primary half, and pulled down 18 rebounds (16 on the defensive finish).

(*4*)

Connecticut Sun’s Alyssa Thomas, left, seems to be to cross whereas Las Vegas Aces’ A’ja Wilson defends throughout the first half in Game 3 of a WNBA basketball closing playoff sequence, Thursday, Sept. 15, 2022, in Uncasville, Conn. (AP Photo/Jessica Hill)

How the Sun gained Game 3

The defensive changes by Miller made all of the distinction. Miller tapped into Bonner’s size to attempt to decelerate Gray and her astonishing postseason run. It labored. Gray didn’t rating after halftime.

“Chelsea Gray’s numbers are historic proper now on contested photographs. So we’re happy going into tonight, two video games, 27 of her 33 photographs in this sequence had been contested, 27 contested photographs,” Miller mentioned. “So we have been staying in place along with her, attempting to make them tough however she has an unbelievable launch level and unbelievable knack of scoring whereas contested. So we determined slightly bit extra size on her, and we knew everybody’s going to protect her, everybody’s going to protect her tonight. But let’s put some size on her.”

Bonner’s all-around sport and the home-crowd help have been precisely what the Sun wanted to force a minimum of another sport. Bonner had struggled offensively earlier in the sequence, one thing that Jones talked to her about previous to Thursday.

Jones’ MVP-level play and Thomas’ triple-double can’t be discounted, both. The all-around crew effort was rewarded. The Sun might have stolen Game 1 in Vegas and have been assured after the three-point loss. Their outing in Game 3 was what was anticipated in Game 2, but it surely did not come to fruition.

How the Aces can bounce again in Game 4

Now, it is on the Aces to make defensive changes in the event that they wish to win their first title in franchise history. Las Vegas is understood for its offense, but it surely should first get stops when Connecticut will get rolling.

“I’ve acquired a ticked off crew in there. I’m not going to should say a lot,” Aces coach Becky Hammon mentioned. “Go again. Look at methods we will exploit what they’re doing and go throw the ball up. This sport was about physicality and psychological toughness, and so they smoked us on it, interval. The bodily follows, however the psychological for them was there and never us.”

There have been glimpses in Game 3 the place the Aces might get again on observe and shut out the sequence. Each time, although, the Sun saved pushing the ball inside. The Sun scored a Finals-record 64 factors in the paint; the Aces solely had 26.

“That’s simply been, I suppose, the MO of the playoffs, proper. Like even the Chicago sequence, the crew that gained the paint gained the sport. That’s the place it is finished,” Jones mentioned. “You know, I feel a very long time in the past, I talked to Lisa Leslie and she or he mentioned, ‘To win the championship, it’s important to win the paint.’ I see it now and I really feel it now and being a veteran now, I can undoubtedly return to that and say that she was proper.”

WNBA Finals schedule

Game 1: Las Vegas 67, Connecticut 64

Game 2: Las Vegas 85, Connecticut 71

Game 3: Connecticut 105, Las Vegas 76 (Aces lead 2-1)

Game 4: Las Vegas at Connecticut, 4 pm ET Sunday (ESPN)

Game 5: Connecticut at Las Vegas, 9 pm ET Tuesday (ESPN)*

* — if crucial

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