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Last-minute Mercury rally falls short in loss to Sparks

LOS ANGELES (AP) -- Chamique Holdsclaw scored 18 points and Lisa
Leslie added 16 with eight rebounds Friday night as the Los Angeles
Sparks beat the Phoenix Mercury 85-83.

Cappie Pondexter had 21 points to lead the Mercury, while Diana
Taurasi contributed 19 and Kelly Miller 13 with a career-high 12
rebounds.

Mwadi Mabika scored 13 points and Lisa Willis 10 for the Sparks
(12-4), who forced the Mercury into a season-high 21 turnovers.

Kamila Vodichkova and Penny Taylor each scored 10 points for
Phoenix (6-8), which had its two-game winning streak snapped.
Phoenix is 0-2 against Los Angeles this season.

Pondexter scored the Mercury's final six points on a pair of
jump shots and two free throws. The Sparks had opened a
double-digit lead several times before Phoenix rallied in the final
minutes.

"Yeah we got a win, but there are situations that we can learn
from and we need to get better on defense," Sparks center Temeka
Johnson said.

Holdsclaw's three-point play midway through the third quarter
triggered a 9-2 run that helped the Sparks take their biggest lead
of the night at 52-41. Mabika scored 10 points in the third quarter
for the Sparks.

Sparks star Lisa Leslie finished with 16 points but shot just
6-of-14 from the field.

"We tried to change defenses to keep Lisa Leslie from getting
easy inside baskets but that opened things up for their other
players," Mercury coach Paul Westhead said.

Taurasi's 3-pointer with 7:43 left in the second quarter gave
Phoenix its biggest lead of the first half, 24-17. But Los Angeles
answered with a 10-2 run and went ahead 29-26 on a jump shot by
Holdsclaw with 4:45 remaining in the opening half.

The Mercury led 17-13 after the first quarter behind 11 points
and five rebounds by Miller. Phoenix held the Sparks to 5-of-21
shooting in the quarter and forced five turnovers.