10:30 PM ET, September 8, 2003
LOS ANGELES (AP) -- Lisa Leslie's performance reminded Sacramento Monarchs coach John Whisenant of another Los Angeles basketball star.
|Sacramento was hindered by Edna Campbell's failure to score and the Monarchs' missed foul shots, but give Los Angeles credit -- the Sparks' backs were against the wall for the second series in a row, but L.A. rose to the occasion and came out on top. Sports are about making plays when you're supposed to, and the Sparks did just that.
Lisa Leslie's ability to come up yet again in crunch time was the key. She remains one of the most efficient players in the half-court offense, and when L.A. needs a big bucket, they go to her time and again because the the odds are in their favor. After Sacramento tied the score at 62, Leslie scored four points in the final 9.8 seconds to clinch the win.
Other than allowing L.A. an 11-0 run in the first half, the Monarchs played really good basketball and could have won this game despite an average performance from Yolanda Griffith. Had the three-time All-Star, former MVP and Olympian played like she did in Game 3 against Houston (27 points, 17 rebounds), L.A.'s quest for a threepeat would have ended Monday.
With Campbell struggling -- she really needed to give Sacramento some perimeter scoring but never really played aggressive -- and Ticha Penicheiro hurt, a big performance from Griffith was imperative. But instead of putting her team on her back, as she has so far in the postseason, Griffith finished with 10 points and eight rebounds.
Sacramento also suffered from missing some clutch foul shots. The Monarchs, the worst free-throw shooting team in the league in the regular season, hit 17 of 19 to help them win Game 1 vs. L.A. But Monday, they were just 12 of 17, and those misses are the difference in a three-point loss.
Sacramento rookie Kara Lawson was outstanding. Nobody wants to have to step in at point guard at this point of the season, but Lawson played 27 gutsy minutes and finished with 12 points, including a pair of free throws that tied the score at 52 and a 17-foot jumper that knotted the score at 62 with 32.5 seconds to play. She played as hard and as well as she could, and no one can ever question Lawson's intensity level and heart.
-- ESPN analyst Nancy Lieberman
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