Mercury 60

(16-15, 7-9 away)

Sparks 73

(24-8, 15-1 home)

    10:30 PM ET, September 14, 2004

    Staples Center, Los Angeles, CA

    1 2 3 4 T
    PHX 33 27 60
    LA 32 41 73

    Top Performers

    Phoenix: P. Taylor 12 Pts, 7 Reb, 3 Ast, 2 Stl, 1 Blk

    Los Angeles: L. Leslie 31 Pts, 7 Reb, 2 Ast, 3 Stl, 3 Blk

    Leslie goes 11-for17 from field

    LOS ANGELES (AP) -- Lisa Leslie returned from the Summer Olympics with a gold medal and a rejuvenated game.

    Leslie made 11 of 17 shots and scored a season-high 31 points to lead the Los Angeles Sparks to a 73-60 victory Tuesday night over the Phoenix Mercury.

    Since the break for the Olympics, Leslie has averaged 26 points, 10.2 rebounds and 3.5 blocks.

    "Lisa turned up her play," Sparks co-coach Karleen Thompson said. "She is playing very consistent and she is being aggressive. She has a lot of energy which makes everyone around her better."

    Leslie was 9-of-12 from the free throw line and added seven rebounds for the WNBA's Western Conference champions, who shot 47.5 percent. Nikki Teasley added 13 points and Mwadi Mabika 11 for the Sparks.

    Phoenix, which shot just 38.3 percent, was led by Penny Taylor and Anna DeForge with 12 points each. Plenette Pierson added 10 points for the Mercury, which holds a one-game lead over Sacramento in the race for the final Western Conference playoff berth.

    Both teams have three games remaining.

    The score was tied at 48 in the second half when Los Angeles used a 9-0 run to move ahead 57-48 with 8:51 to play.

    "They are one of the only teams in the league that can get 10 or 12 points in the blink of an eye," Mercury coach Carrie Graf said of the Sparks. "They're the best team in the league in running and controlling momentum."

    Taylor was fouled while making a layup and converted the ensuing free throw to narrow the Mercury's deficit to 57-51 with 8:31 left. But Leslie's hook shot and Mabika's fallaway jumper extended the Sparks' lead to 61-51 with 7:02 to play.

    Los Angeles made 16 of 30 shots in the second half while Phoenix made only 10 of 31.

    Diana Taurasi, Phoenix's highly regarded rookie, made only three of 12 shots and finished with seven points.

    Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press


    Team Stat Comparison

      Phoenix Los Angeles
    Points 60 73
    FG Made-Attempted 23-60 (.000) 28-59 (.000)
    3P Made-Attempted 5-14 (.357) 6-15 (.400)
    FT Made-Attempted 9-13 (.000) 11-17 (.000)
    Rebounds (Offensive-Total) 7-23 8-31
    Assists 16 19
    Turnovers 10 16
    Steals 7 6
    Blocks 6 6
    Fast Break Points 2 6
    Fouls (Tech/Flagrant) 19 (0/0) 18 (0/0)