Final

Mercury 103

(23-11, 11-6 away)

Sparks 94

(18-16, 11-6 home)

    Coverage: ESPN2/WatchESPN

    10:00 PM ET, September 23, 2009

    Staples Center, Los Angeles, CA

    1 2 3 4 T
    PHX 26 27 19 31103
    LA 19 27 22 2694

    Top Performers

    Phoenix: D. Taurasi 28 Pts, 1 Reb, 6 Ast, 2 Stl, 1 Blk

    Los Angeles: C. Parker 28 Pts, 10 Reb, 3 Ast, 1 Blk

    Mercury-Sparks Preview

    LOS ANGELES (AP) -- Lisa Leslie got her wish when it comes to the Los Angeles Sparks' opponent in the Western Conference finals.

    They'll play the Phoenix Mercury in the best of 3 series that begins Wednesday night at UCLA's Pauley Pavilion. The Sparks were forced out of their home court at Staples Center because of a Britney Spears concert.

    "They seem to be the team that's hot," Leslie said about the top-seeded Mercury. "You can't take a step back right now when it comes to the Western Conference finals. This is where we ended our season last year so we're very hungry. I just believe that Phoenix is the team we're going to have to beat and we'll have to find a way to get it done."

    Phoenix advanced by defeating San Antonio in three games. The third-seeded Sparks were stretched the same distance in holding off the Seattle Storm and prolonging Leslie's career. She plans to retire when the season ends.

    The Sparks are in the conference finals for the third time in four years and eighth in franchise history.

    Sparks coach Michael Cooper finally saw his team's killer instinct emerge in Game 3 on the road Sunday against Seattle.

    "It's been coming and going throughout the season," he said. "We've had lapses where we'll play hard and then it seems like we'll fall asleep for three or four minutes and let teams get back in the game."

    Phoenix beat Los Angeles in three of their four regular season meetings but the first win was while Candace Parker was out on maternity leave. The lone Sparks win was in the regular season finale on Sept. 13, when Diana Taurasi was held out of the game since it had no bearing on the standings.

    "They're a very different team right now," Taurasi said. "They are confident. They are playing well. You can just tell when you watch them play that they are really comfortable with each other."

    Phoenix has not slowed down in the playoffs, averaging 99 points in the three games against San Antonio after averaging a WNBA-record 92.8 points in the regular season.

    "LA -- long, tall and playing a 3-2 zone now, that's funny, a 3-2 zone," Mercury coach Corey Gaines said.

    "They are going to switch everything. Rebounding is the key to them. If you rebound the ball on their misses and go, it's tough for them to get back because they are so long. You just can't let them pound us inside. We have to figure a way, some defenses to get them to shoot outside shots and hope they miss."

    Game 2 will be Friday in Phoenix. A third game, if necessary, would be there Saturday.

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