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Holdsclaw, Leslie Spark Los Angeles past Houston

LOS ANGELES (AP) -- Chamique Holdsclaw scored 19 points, Lisa
Leslie added 18, and the Los Angeles Sparks held off the Houston
Comets 74-62 Wednesday night.

Temeka Johnson had 11 points, seven rebounds and five assists
for the Sparks (14-5), who moved two games ahead of second-place
Houston in the Western Conference with their 11th victory in 13
games.

Tina Thompson led the Comets (12-7) with 13 points, Dawn Staley
added 11 and Sheryl Swoopes had a season-high 10 rebounds, nine
points and six assists.

"This game was perfect for us," said Sparks coach Joe Bryant,
whose team lost 85-63 to San Antonio Monday night. "Against San
Antonio, we kind of overprepared. It's like you study for three or
four days for the test, and then you get brain lock. Tonight, we
got very aggressive and tried to take (the Comets) out of their
plays."

Los Angeles made seven of its first eight shots to take a 15-0
lead in the first 3:55. Leslie led the spree with six points, three
rebounds, two assists and a steal.

"When the Sparks see the Comets coming, they bring their 'A'
game, 100 percent," Comets coach Van Chancellor said. "We dropped
way too far behind to be able to play."

Houston committed four turnovers in the first three minutes,
failed to score in the first 4:15 and grabbed just one rebound in
the first five minutes.

"We played bad the last few games and we just wanted to play
better defense more than anything else," Leslie said. "We kept
them out of the middle and we did a much better job defensively,
which really helped us with our offense."

The Comets used a 15-4 surge to narrow the deficit to 47-40 with
4:54 left in the third quarter, then drew within 57-53 on Sancho
Lyttle's inside jumper with 8:34 to play.

But Johnson and Holdsclaw each scored four points during an 11-2
run that extended the Sparks' lead to 68-55 with 3:21 remaining.