Sparks 80

(2-1, 2-1 away)

Stars 71

(1-2, 0-2 home)

    8:00 PM ET, May 25, 2006

    1 2 3 4 T
    LA 18 18 17 2780
    SA 8 20 18 2571

    Top Performers

    Los Angeles: L. Leslie 25 Pts, 16 Reb, 2 Ast, 3 Stl, 4 Blk

    San Antonio: V. Johnson 13 Pts, 8 Reb, 6 Ast, 1 Stl

    Leslie's double-double fuels Sparks' victory

    SAN ANTONIO (AP) -- Who the short-handed Sparks play with Lisa Leslie hardly matters. As long as the two-time MVP is in the lineup, Los Angeles is in good shape.

    Leslie had 25 points and 16 rebounds to lead the Sparks past the San Antonio Silver Stars 80-71 on Thursday night.

    The Sparks have used a different starting lineup in each of their first three games, though Leslie has been a constant.

    Six-time All-Star Chamique Holdsclaw has yet to play for Los Angeles this season. Team officials said Holdsclaw is tending to a "family matter." They expect her to practice with the team Saturday in Los Angeles.

    And Temeka Johnson, last season's WNBA Rookie of the Year who was acquired in a trade with Washington during the offseason, missed Thursday's game because of strained right quadriceps. She's expected to miss at least two more games.

    "More than anything, I knew I needed to step up -- not only tonight, but this season," Leslie said.

    Los Angeles led by as many as 15 points in the first half and had a 14-point lead with eight minutes remaining in the game.

    But the Silver Stars outscored Los Angeles 21-9 during the next 6:07 and trailed 69-67 when Vickie Johnson got an outlet pass to Shannon Johnson for a fast-break layup with 1:53 remaining.

    The Sparks got three free throws from Doneeka Hodges-Lewis, plus a basket in the lane from Leslie to pull ahead by seven with 39 seconds left. Hodges-Lewis scored 14 points.

    Kendra Wecker, who missed almost all of her rookie season a year ago because of injury, came off the bench to score a career-high 16 points on 7-of-10 shooting for the Silver Stars (1-2).

    Los Angeles has won nine straight over the Silver Stars since the 2003 season.

    Mwadi Mabika, who missed Tuesday's game at Charlotte because of a sore knee, returned to the starting lineup Thursday for the Sparks and was just 1-of-9 from the floor.

    Leslie had her second straight game with at least 20 points and 15 rebounds. She scored 27 and had 16 rebounds Tuesday in a victory over Charlotte.

    "During preseason mini-camp she raised the bar and set the tone for the entire team, embracing the role of team leader," Sparks coach Joe Bryant said.

    Leslie made 9-of-11 free throws, blocked four shots and had three steals. Her six offensive rebounds helped Los Angeles to a 15-7 advantage on the offensive boards.

    "You can't give a team like that second and third shots because they are going to eventually knock it down," Wecker said.

    Wecker was San Antonio's first-round draft choice last year. But she played 11 minutes of the season opener before a knee injury kept her out for the remainder of the year.

    Leslie had a 10-point opening quarter -- on 4-of-5 shooting plus five rebounds, two steals and a blocked shot -- to lead the Sparks to a 18-8 lead heading into the second quarter. San Antonio was 3-of-15 from the floor.

    Los Angeles led by seven points to start the fourth. The Sparks doubled that lead when Brandi Davis hit a 3-pointer and Hodges-Lewis scored on a drive and a fast-break layup to make it 60-46 with 8:07 remaining in the game.

    Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press


    Team Stat Comparison

      Los Angeles San Antonio
    Points 80 71
    FG Made-Attempted 26-66 (.000) 26-62 (.000)
    3P Made-Attempted 4-13 (.308) 5-13 (.385)
    FT Made-Attempted 24-28 (.000) 14-19 (.000)
    Rebounds (Offensive-Total) 15-42 7-30
    Assists 14 22
    Turnovers 16 15
    Steals 12 7
    Blocks 5 6
    Fast Break Points 9 9
    Fouls (Tech/Flagrant) 19 (0/0) 20 (0/0)