Tuesday 21st August, 2018
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Liberty will see familiar face against Aces

Sports Xchange - Wednesday 13th June, 2018

There will be a sense of familiarity for the New York Liberty when they glance at the visiting sideline and see Bill Laimbeer giving instructions.

Laimbeer will be doing the coaching for the Las Vegas Aces, who visit the Liberty on Wednesday night at the Westchester County Civic Center in White Plains, N.Y.

Laimbeer is known to NBA fans as the bruising big man for the "Bad Boys" Detroit Pistons, who won consecutive titles in 1989 and 1990. To Liberty fans, he is known as the team's sixth coach, a role he held the previous five seasons.

During his time in New York, he also served as general manager for 2013-14 and again last season. The Liberty went 92-78 in the five seasons Laimbeer was the coach. They were 26-42 in his first two seasons as GM before getting to the playoffs in the next three campaigns.

Laimbeer left the Liberty after last season to join the Aces, who relocated from San Antonio after last season. His new team is off to a 2-7 start.

The Aces halted a three-game losing streak when rookie A'ja Wilson totaled 35 points and 13 rebounds in Tuesday's 101-92 overtime victory at Indiana. It was her sixth game with at least 20 points and her third double-double.

Wilson, who was the top overall draft pick this year and was the NCAA Player of the Year from South Carolina, is averaging 22 points per game. She scored 10 points in overtime after Las Vegas blew an eight-point lead in the final two-plus minutes of regulation.

"Nobody can guard her one-on-one, she's just too fast," Laimbeer told the Las Vegas Review-Journal last week. "You have to respect her 15-footer or else she'll drive right by you also."

Laimbeer's former team also is off to a slow start filled with close games. The Liberty are 3-4 through their first seven games and each contest has been decided by six points or fewer.

New York rebounded from close home losses to the Phoenix Mercury and Connecticut Sun by getting a 78-75 win over the Indiana Fever on Sunday.

The Liberty held a seemingly comfortable lead early in the fourth quarter but needed a 3-pointer from Marissa Coleman with 16.1 seconds remaining.

"We needed this win," Coleman said. "We don't want to get too far behind where we're having to fight to get some wins towards the end of the season. So hopefully we can build from this."

Coleman's game-winner helped the Liberty win on a sluggish day when Tina Charles was held to 13 points on 4-of-15 shooting.

Charles' quiet performance occurred on a day when the Liberty shot 45.6 percent from the field and was 13-for-24 from 3-point range.

The Liberty hope they are aided by the returns of Epiphanny Prince and Kiah Stokes. Prince will be making her season debut after suffering a concussion, while Stokes missed the last three games with a left foot injury.

New York is 7-1 in the last eight meetings with the Las Vegas franchise.

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