Kahleah Copper’s career night not enough for Sky against league-leading Aces

Copper scored 37 points in the Sky’s 107-95 loss at Wintrust Arena.

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Kahleah Copper scored a career-high 37 points in the Sky’s 107-95 loss to the Aces.

Kahleah Copper scored a career-high 37 points in the Sky’s 107-95 loss to the Aces.

Gary Dineen/NBAE via Getty Images

Both of the Aces’ losses this season were notable.

Sun forward DeWanna Bonner set a franchise record with 41 points in her team’s victory against the top team in the league June 8. The Wings’ victory July 8 snapped the Aces’ nine-game winning streak.

On Tuesday at Wintrust Arena, Sky star Kahleah Copper gave it her best shot by scoring a career-high 37 points. But the Aces proved in their 107-95 victory that it takes more than a career-high night to knock them off; it takes near-perfection.

‘‘They punished us for every little mistake we made,’’ Sky interim general manager/coach Emre Vatansever said.

Copper had one of her most efficient nights, shooting 12-for-18 from the field, including 4-for-7 from three-point range. Even with her team maintaining a double-digit lead, Aces coach Becky Hammon had seen enough. She called a timeout in the fourth quarter to discuss a three-letter game plan to close it out.

‘‘Anybody but her,’’ Hammon said in a huddle to her team. ‘‘ABC: Anybody but Copper.’’

Midway through the fourth, the Aces (22-2) proved that games against them are never as close as they seem. In less than two minutes, their nine-point lead jumped to 16. The Sky (9-14) never got back within 10 in the last four minutes.

The Sky’s new investor, three-time NBA champion Dwyane Wade, headed for the exit with 1:35 to play, signing memorabilia on his way out.

While the Sky’s 13 turnovers that led to 17 points were a contributing factor in their loss, they also needed more production from players not named Copper.

A’ja Wilson, Chelsea Gray and Kelsey Plum combined for 73 points for the Aces, while the Sky’s next three highest scorers behind Copper combined for fewer than she scored. Courtney Williams had a double-double with 11 points and 11 rebounds, Marina Mabrey had 11 points, six assists and five rebounds and Elizabeth Williams added 12 points.

In the paint is where the Aces bullied the Sky, outscoring them 50-24 inside. It wasn’t just Wilson, either. Plum scored all but three of her field goals at the rim.

They also outscored the Sky 22-10 in transition and made the most of their trips to the free-throw line, sinking 24 of their 27 attempts.

‘‘When teams are penetrating and getting in the paint, you want to force them to make tough shots,’’ Elizabeth Williams said. ‘‘If we could reduce some of the free throws and fast-break points, that would have put us in a better position.’’

Former Sky star Candace Parker missed her sixth consecutive game for the Aces. After the team originally reported Parker would miss an extended period with an ankle injury, the two-time WNBA champion provided a personal update, saying she had surgery to repair a fracture in her foot.

Parker unknowingly had been playing with the broken foot all season. Hammon said she didn’t know exactly when Parker suffered the injury, only that it was before the season.

Regardless of Parker’s absence, Hammon and the Aces understand her impact will remain a critical factor in their success. It’s a quality the Sky understand well.

‘‘She can sit anywhere on that bench because I know I’ll be tapping into her brain, seeing what she sees out there,’’ Hammon said. ‘‘So we’re going to try and keep her around as much as possible, but we also need her to get healthy.”

Hammon said there is no timetable for Parker’s return. On Tuesday, they proved once again they can maintain their winning ways without her.

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