Leslie leads L.A. past Houston, West lead at 4 1/2 games

HOUSTON (AP) -- Lisa Leslie scored 16 points and led the Los
Angeles Sparks to their first regular-season sweep over the Houston
Comets with a 56-52 win on Tuesday.

Leslie scored 13 points in the second half and added 13 rebounds
for her league-leading 14th double-double of the season.

Chamique Holdsclaw came off the bench and added 15 points and 10
rebounds for the Sparks, who are 3-0 against Houston this season
and lead the Comets by 6½ games in the Western Conference.

The Sparks trailed by as many as nine points before rallying
late for their league-leading 21st win of the season.

"Hustle plays really got us back in the game tonight," Leslie
said. "I just wasn't in a good rhythm early in the game and I
don't think anyone on either team was. It certainly wasn't pretty,
but there have been times when we've had to rely on our defense to
win games."

Sheryl Swoopes scored 15 points for the Comets, who lost at home
for just the third time this season. Playing without injured
starters Dominique Canty and Tina Thompson, the Comets fell to 1-6
in their last seven games overall.

The Comets were held to a season-low 29.2 field-goal percentage.

"I told the team tonight that the rest of the games would have
a playoff atmosphere," Sparks coach Joe Bryant said. "We have to
be ready for everyone and sometimes you have to play like we did

"We had to stop them by not allowing them to find their shot."

Los Angeles took the lead for good with 3:53 left in the game
when Holdsclaw made a layup to make it 48-46.

Houston had two chances to tie the game with a 3-pointer with
less than 15 seconds left in the game, but Dawn Staley and Swoopes
missed badly in the Comets' final possession.

"At times in this game we had mental lapses, both offensive and
defensive," Swoopes said. "We didn't shoot the ball well, and we
couldn't get shots to fall. At the same time, our offense wasn't
allowing them to get the shots they wanted. We gave up rebounds at
crucial points of the game."

The Comets raced out to a 12-3 lead in the first five minutes of
the game led by Swoopes' four points. Swoopes hit a 16-foot jump
shot and started a 6-0 run that was capped by a driving layup by

Houston had a 27-21 lead at halftime despite being outrebounded
23-15 by the Sparks.

"We did a really good job of hanging in and trying to win a
game shooting 29 percent," Comets coach Van Chancellor said. "I
thought we didn't rebound the ball, and when the game was on the
line in the last five minutes, LA was a lot more physical than us.
Until we get more physical, we aren't going to beat a team like