Ex-Detroit Pistons star Bill Laimbeer earns 300th career WNBA coaching win

Detroit Free Press

COLLEGE PARK, Ga. — A’ja Wilson bounced back from one of the worst games of her career with 21 points, 12 rebounds and seven assists to help the Las Vegas Aces beat the Atlanta Dream 78-71 on Thursday night for coach Bill Laimbeer’s 300th career victory.

Laimbeer, who won two championships and played 13 seasons with the Detroit Pistons, became the second coach in WNBA history to reach the milestone.

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Dearica Hamby added 20 points and nine boards, and Chelsea Gray, who has made 24 straight free throws, connected on two at the stripe with 37.2 seconds left to extend Las Vegas’ lead to 78-71.

Atlanta was 4 for 16 from the field in the fourth quarter, getting outscored 17-9.

Wilson had four points, going 1 for 15 from the field in a loss to Connecticut on Tuesday.

Liz Cambage added 17 points for Las Vegas (18-7). Monique Billings scored 21 points for Atlanta (6-19), which has lost 10 straight.

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Laimbeer has coached in the WNBA since 2002, when he took over the Detroit Shock midseason. He led the team to a WNBA title and was named coach of the year in his first full season as head coach.

With the Shock, Laimbeer won three titles in six years and was named the league’s best coach twice. After leaving Detroit, he was an assistant coach in the NBA, before returning to the WNBA with the New York Liberty from 2013-2017.

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Laimbeer became the Aces’ president of basketball operations and first head coach in 2017 after the team, then the Silver Stars, relocated from San Antonio.

The Aces missed the playoffs in 2018 but made the conference finals in 2019 before falling in the WNBA finals last season under Laimbeer. He averaged 13.5 points and 10.1 rebounds a game during his playing career with the Pistons and his No. 40 has been retired by the organization.

Only Mike Thibault has more coaching wins in WNBA history.

Follow the Free Press on Facebook and Twitter for more news. Assistant sports editor Tyler Davis contributed to this report. He can be contacted at tjdavis@freepress.com or on Twitter @TDavisFreep.

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