Short-handed Aces looking to clinch crown in New York

The Las Vegas Aces will try to close out the WNBA Finals without starters Chelsea Gray and Kiah Stokes when the team takes the floor Wednesday night for Game 4 against the host New York Liberty.

Gray, last year’s Finals MVP, suffered a left foot injury in the fourth quarter of Game 3 on Sunday. Stokes, who had started 30 straight games (regular season and playoffs) at center, also suffered a foot injury; neither will play in the potential clinching game of the best-of-five series.

The Aces lead two games to one as they try to become the first team since the 2001-02 Los Angeles Sparks to win back-to-back WNBA titles. Aces coach Becky Hammon said both Gray and Stokes are considered questionable if a winner-take-all Game 5 is needed Friday night in Las Vegas.

Without Gray, the Aces could turn to Kelsey Plum to play point guard. Plum has scored at least 23 points in every game of this series, including 29 on Sunday, when the Liberty found their shot and handed the Aces their first loss of the postseason, 87-73.

“You’re gonna see a lot more times where Jackie (Young) and KP are at the top more since I’m not out there,” Gray told reporters. “Our system being fluid actually really helps in that way.”

Jonquel Jones pulled New York back in the series Sunday by scoring 27 points on 10-of-15 shooting, including 4-of-7 from behind the arc, and adding eight rebounds and three blocks.

Perhaps more importantly, the Liberty held Las Vegas star A’ja Wilson to 4-of-16 shooting, even though she still wound up with a double-double (16 points, 11 boards). The Liberty outrebounded Las Vegas for the first time in the series, with MVP Breanna Stewart contributing 20 points and 12 rebounds.

“(The aggressiveness) was really good,” Liberty big Stefanie Dolson said. “JJ and Stewie have the most length … they disrupt A’ja a lot and disrupt anyone who comes into the paint.”

The two Finals teams split the regular-season series 2-2, although the Liberty crushed the host Aces 82-63 in the Commissioner’s Cup championship game.

New York is one of two teams that beat the Aces in Las Vegas all year.