Storm 70

(18-16, 9-8 away)

Sparks 78

(25-9, 15-2 home)

    Coverage: ESPN2/WatchESPN

    5:00 PM ET, August 20, 2006

    Staples Center, Los Angeles, CA

    1 2 3 4 T
    SEA 29 11 15 1570
    LA 19 14 26 1978

    Top Performers

    Seattle: B. Lennox 19 Pts, 8 Reb, 1 Ast, 2 Stl

    Los Angeles: M. Mabika 17 Pts, 7 Reb, 3 Ast, 4 Stl

    Mabika lights fire as Sparks come back to beat Storm

    LOS ANGELES (AP) -- Mwadi Mabika turned a frustrating first half into a crucial victory for the Los Angeles Sparks.

    Mabika scored nine of her 17 points in the third quarter and the Sparks rallied from a 15-point deficit for a 78-70 victory over the Seattle Storm on Sunday, evening their best-of-three first-round Western Conference series.

    Mabika also grabbed seven rebounds for the Sparks, who forced a decisive game Tuesday night in Los Angeles.

    "She was just awesome," Storm center Lauren Jackson said of Mabika. "She's unbelievable. She really came out and gave them the lift they needed."

    Lisa Leslie also scored 17 points, and Tamara Moore and Christi Thomas added 10 points apiece.

    Betty Lennox led the Storm with 19 points. Lauren Jackson added 13 and Iziane Castro Marques had 11.

    Seattle point guard Sue Bird left the game with 54.1 seconds to play after injuring her nose. Los Angeles guard Tamara Moore inadvertently elbowed Bird in the nose while trying to pass.

    Bird fell to the court on her knees as blood spurted out of her nose. Storm coach Anne Donovan said that Bird thought it was broken.

    Lennox scored 13 points as the Storm built a 39-24 lead with 4:51 left in the first half. However, with Seattle holding a 14-point lead nearly 2½ minutes later, Mabika went to work.

    Mabika scored seven points in a span of 1:43, all off turnovers, to bring Los Angeles within 40-33 at halftime.

    "It was huge," Leslie said of Mabika's spurt. "Mwadi would not be denied. She kept telling us, 'You guys, it's OK. We're going to win this game. Don't worry about it.' She was fired up."

    Then in the third quarter, Mabika added four rebounds and two assists to go with her nine points, as the Sparks moved ahead 59-55 heading into the fourth.

    "We told her to take it to the basket," Los Angeles coach Joe Bryant said. "It would be difficult for Castro (Marques) to guard her, and Castro's so good offensively that I said, 'Let's put some pressure on Castro."

    Seattle narrowed its deficit to 64-63 with 7:11 to play but Los Angeles' 12-2 run extended its lead to 11 with 1:29 remaining.

    The Storm committed 17 turnovers that enabled Los Angeles to score 22 points. Both teams shot 41 percent from the field, though the Sparks took 19 more shots. However, Seattle was 21-for-28 on free throws, and Los Angeles was 15-for-23.

    Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press


    Team Stat Comparison

      Seattle Los Angeles
    Points 70 78
    FG Made-Attempted 21-51 (.000) 29-70 (.000)
    3P Made-Attempted 7-21 (.333) 5-13 (.385)
    FT Made-Attempted 21-28 (.000) 15-23 (.000)
    Rebounds (Offensive-Total) 4-30 10-35
    Assists 9 21
    Turnovers 15 10
    Steals 4 9
    Blocks 6 1
    Fast Break Points 7 6
    Fouls (Tech/Flagrant) 19 (1/0) 22 (0/0)