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Jackson sparks Seattle past L.A. for opening win

SEATTLE (AP) -- With Lauren Jackson limited by foul trouble,
Wendy Palmer made a lasting first impression on her new team.

Palmer scored 18 points and pulled down 12 rebounds in her first
game with Seattle, and Jackson added 23 as the Storm opened the
season with a 90-67 rout of the Los Angeles Sparks on Sunday night.

"Absolutely, but I didn't worry about that," Palmer said of
her first impression on Seattle. "I've been around. I think they
know who Wendy Palmer is."

Palmer started in place of Janell Burse, who has been bothered
with a shoulder injury, and had 10 of Seattle's 16 rebounds in the
first half. Los Angeles coach Joe Bryant said Palmer looked "like
she was 18."

"She went in there and did an old school lesson on us," Bryant
said.

Jackson was stuck on the sidelines for most of the preseason as
Seattle's coaches tried to limit the strain on her injured shins.
Finally given free rein, she found herself back on the bench less
than three minutes into the opener after picking up two fouls, and
played just six minutes in the first half.

No problem. The All-Star waited until the second half to take
over, when she made 6 of 8 shots for 16 points.

"That was pretty frustrating," Jackson said. "I sat all
preseason, so it was important for me to get out there and run
around and not have any restrictions on time."

With Jackson on the bench, Sue Bird carried the scoring for
Seattle, scoring 10 of her 13 points in the first half. Bird made
her first five shots, and added nine assists and a franchise-record
seven steals. Seattle coach Anne Donovan asked Bird during the
preseason to be more aggressive offensively and called Bird's
performance "perfect."

Lisa Leslie led the Sparks with 24 points, but fouled out with
4:08 left on Jackson's three-point play. Los Angeles couldn't make
up for the absence of Chamique Holdsclaw.

The All-Star forward missed the opener while tending to family
issues on the East Coast. Holdsclaw left the Sparks last weekend
with permission, and coach Joe Bryant would not put a timetable on
her return.

Holdsclaw averaged 17 points and 6.8 rebounds last year with Los
Angeles -- her first with the Sparks.

"We've had one week together with all these players," Leslie
said. "We're going to get better, but we gave a good effort."

Mwadi Mabika scored 19 for Los Angeles, and Doneeka Hodges-Lewis
added 10. Temeka Johnson, last year's league rookie of the year
with Washington, shot just 2-for-11 and scored four points.

Leading 41-32 at halftime, Seattle scored the first 10 points of
the second half and 15 of 17, taking a 56-34 lead on Jackson's
basket with 6:29 left in the third quarter. The Storm scored only
two points in the final 4½ minutes of the quarter, but still led by
13.

Seattle then started the fourth quarter on an 11-4 run,
stretching the lead back to 20 on Jackson's 3-pointer.

"It's a really great start for our defense," Donovan said.
"We are determined we're not going to be at the bottom of the
league defensively."

Seattle's Iziane Castro Marques caught an elbow in the right
temple early in the fourth quarter going for a rebound and laid on
the floor for several minutes. She eventually walked off the court,
but did not return after scoring 11 points.