Sparks 72

(25-9, 10-7 away)

Storm 84

(18-16, 9-8 home)

    10:00 PM ET, August 18, 2006

    Key Arena, Seattle, WA

    1 2 3 4 T
    LA 18 18 23 1372
    SEA 22 20 15 2784

    Top Performers

    Los Angeles: C. Holdsclaw 13 Pts, 9 Reb, 2 Ast, 1 Blk

    Seattle: L. Jackson 22 Pts, 9 Reb, 2 Ast, 2 Stl, 2 Blk

    Jackson outplays Leslie as Storm extinguish Sparks

    SEATTLE (AP) -- Lauren Jackson gingerly walked out of the Seattle Storm locker room on the ball of her aching left foot. Ice was under the foot's arch, site of the 2003 MVP's plantar fasciitis. She had another ice bag hanging off her lower left leg, for shin splints.

    "Piggyback!" Jackson playfully asked teammate Janell Burse, putting her arm around on Burse's own ice bag resting on her left shoulder.

    The battered Storm owed Jackson the ride late Friday. Jackson again carried Seattle with 22 points and nine rebounds while outplaying Los Angeles' fellow former MVP Lisa Leslie in the fourth-seeded Storm's 84-72 win over the top-seeded Sparks in Game 1 of the WNBA Western Conference first-round playoffs at roaring KeyArena.

    Burse added 17 points in the first game she and Jackson played together against Los Angeles this season.

    "It was so nice to be able to play with her. They couldn't double-team me as much," said Jackson, a native of Australia.

    "So good job, mate!" Jackson added, slapping Burse's left knee.

    Leslie led Los Angeles with 15 points, but took only one of her nine total shots in the second half. She played the final quarter with four and then five fouls.

    Game 2 of the best-of-three series is Sunday in Los Angeles, where the Sparks were 15-2 in the regular season. One of those losses was to Seattle. The Storm are the only team to beat Los Angeles more than once this season, now having taken three of four.

    "We're going to come out ready on Sunday," said Sparks coach Joe Bryant, who lamented the disparity between Seattle's 31 free throws to Los Angeles' 15.

    "Game 2 is going to be an absolute dogfight," said Sue Bird, who scored all 12 of her points in the first half to lead Seattle to a 42-36 halftime lead.

    Leslie sank two free throws to pull the Sparks to within 70-66 with 2:27 remaining. That's when Jackson got help from someone other than Burse. Iziane Castro Marques, who had missed her five previous shots, made a 3-pointer over the Sparks' gap-filled zone. Then she forced a Leslie turnover.

    "I thought Castro was really the key defensively. She kept getting her hand on the ball," Leslie said.

    Marques ended the ensuing fast break with an assist on Jackson's layup and three-point play. That gave Seattle a 73-66 lead and sealed the win.

    Seattle coach Anne Donovan called Marques' stunning shot "one of the biggest plays of the game."

    "It was so open, it almost developed in slow motion," Donovan said.

    Los Angeles and Leslie were in slow motion at the start.

    Leslie, the league's third-leading scorer at 20 points per game in the regular season, missed her first three shots and had a turnover as Seattle took a 6-0 lead. But Leslie went 4-for-5 over the remainder of the first half to lead Los Angeles back from an early, 11-point deficit to within six.

    Temeka Johnson's baseline jumper with 5:41 left in the third quarter gave Los Angeles its first lead, 50-48. Johnson followed that with a 3-pointer just over a minute later that put the Sparks up 55-50.

    But Seattle scored 11 of the first 13 points of the fourth quarter to take a 68-61 lead with 5 minutes remaining. Betty Lennox's 3-pointer gave Seattle a 64-61 lead, and Burse and Tiffani Johnson followed with baskets.

    The showdown between former MVPs Leslie and Jackson peaked late in the third quarter, when Jackson blocked Leslie's turnaround jumper in the lane before it ever left Leslie's hand. That started a Seattle fast break and the night's loudest cheer.

    Los Angeles started five-time All-Star Chamique Holdsclaw for the first time this season. Holdsclaw, who averaged 15 points off the bench in the regular season, had 13 on 6-for-12 shooting.

    She left the game for 3½ minutes of the first quarter after aggravating a ligament strain in her left foot. Holdsclaw will have an MRI on Saturday, after which her status for Sunday may become clearer.

    Los Angeles need not despair. Teams have lost the opening game and comeback to win a best-of-three series 14 times in league history. The last time was last summer -- Seattle lost two straight to lose its opening-round series against Houston.

    Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press


    Team Stat Comparison

      Los Angeles Seattle
    Points 72 84
    FG Made-Attempted 27-70 (.000) 27-62 (.000)
    3P Made-Attempted 6-17 (.353) 4-17 (.235)
    FT Made-Attempted 12-15 (.000) 26-31 (.000)
    Rebounds (Offensive-Total) 17-36 6-25
    Assists 20 22
    Turnovers 14 6
    Steals 3 7
    Blocks 3 5
    Fast Break Points 7 15
    Fouls (Tech/Flagrant) 27 (0/0) 12 (0/0)