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Leslie scores 22 as Sparks pull away in second half

LOS ANGELES (AP) -- Slowly, the Los Angeles Sparks are coming
together under new coach Henry Bibby.

After going 2-2 on a season-opening road trip, the Sparks
rallied in the second half for an 81-70 victory over the winless
San Antonio Silver Stars on Tuesday night.

Lisa Leslie scored 22 points, Chamique Holdsclaw added 19, Nikki
Teasley had 17, including five 3-pointers, and Tamecka Dixon had 10
points for the Sparks, who are 15-1 at home against the Silver
Stars.

"We got to get used to each other," Leslie said. "When our
defense is on, we can still hold a team."

The Sparks improved to 8-1 in home openers since losing the
franchise's inaugural game against the New York Liberty on June 21,
1997.

"I'm glad to be back at home," Bibby said. "We want to
impress the people that come out and see us."

Los Angeles hardly looked like a team favored to win the WNBA
championship in the game's opening minutes. The Sparks fell behind
8-2 and clung to a four-point halftime lead.

"I wasn't really nervous, but I had a little bit of jitters,"
Holdsclaw said. "We're just learning. We're trying to get our
defense better."

The Silver Stars have lost all five of their games under
first-year coach Dan Hughes.

Chantelle Anderson led the Silver Stars with 16 points and Marie
Ferdinand, one of only three holdovers from last year's team, added
15.

"We're young and we're trying to get some chemistry
established," Hughes said. "Defensively, we've had a hard time."

Anderson scored the first two baskets of the second half to tie
the game at 29. The Silver Stars trailed 34-33 on two free throws
by LaToya Thomas.

Then Leslie ignited a 23-7 run that increased the Sparks' lead
to 57-40 with 8:23 remaining. She had four points, Holdsclaw scored
nine and Teasley hit two 3-pointers in the spurt.

"We executed about five plays in a row, like the heavens opened
up," Leslie said. "Then we relaxed and defensively, we left some
players open."

The Silver Stars closed within six points with just over a
minute to play, but Tamika Whitmore rebounded Leslie's miss and
scored inside to keep the Sparks ahead, 73-65.

Both teams were sloppy, combining for 29 turnovers. After
committing 10 miscues in the first half, the Sparks had just one in
the second.

San Antonio's Nikki McCray finished with two points, giving her
2,501 in her eight-year WNBA career.