Washington — DeLisha Milton says defensive intensity is the key to the hottest team in the WNBA.
"The secret is the intensity that we put into our defensive game," Milton said Saturday after scoring 13 points and grabbing eight rebounds during Los Angeles' 62-50 victory over Washington.
"We really try to come out and alter everything that we possibly can just being everywhere and getting our hands on passes.
"When we're out there being tenacious and feisty digging real hard into everything and blocking shots it really scares teams and makes them think twice. And when we have them thinking twice, they're playing on our court instead of us playing on theirs."
Saturday's matinee was played before a sellout crowd of 19,093 at MCI Center, but the Sparks controlled the game from opening tip until final horn against the Mystics, who lost their second consecutive game without injured leading scorer and rebounder Chamique Holdsclaw.
"Sometimes we don't have an attitude, but in this game we definitely came out with an attitude" said Mystics center Murriel Page, who had 13 points, nine rebounds and two blocks.
"Everyone thought this was going to be a cakewalk for LA, but we came out with an attitude that this is our house and we're not going to back down."
The Sparks say they face that everywhere they play.
"We knew there would be a lot of adrenaline pumping because of Chamique's absence, a lot of players really wanting to show their stuff on TV, and because they were playing the Sparks," Milton said. "But this team just has so many offensive threats. On any given night, any of us can have 20-plus points and 10 boards. The thing that's so beautiful about it is we really know how to share the ball and let the ball find the open player."
Lisa Leslie posted her 10th double-double of the season with 18 points, 12 rebounds and five blocks for the Sparks (17-3), who've won eight in a row. Guards Ukari Figgs and Tamecka Dixon each scored 10 points, and Latasha Byears added 10 rebounds for Los Angeles, which hasn't lost since an 82-69 setback at New York on June 24.
Helen Luz scored 14 points to lead the Mystics (5-13), who've lost four in a row.
Starzz 69, Monarchs 57
Salt Lake City Jennifer Azzi had 17 points and eight assists as Utah beat Sacramento to snap a two-game losing streak.
Margo Dydek had 10 points and 14 rebounds, and Natalie Williams added 12 points and eight rebounds for the Starzz (8-10). Yolanda Griffith led Sacramento (12-8) with 18 points and nine rebounds.
Sting 71, Fever 58
Charlotte, N.C. Allison Feaster scored 17 points and made four three-pointers to tie Charlotte's single-season record while leading the Sting past Indiana.
Feaster made 4-of-7 three-pointers to give her 38 on the season, tying the club mark set last year by Andrea Stinson.
Stinson added 14 points and Clarisse Machanguana scored 13 for the Sting (8-11), who won seven of eight to close the first half of the season.
Dawn Staley had nine assists and just four points all free throws. But they were enough to give her 2,002 points for her career.
Nadine Malcolm had 17 points for Indiana (6-13).
Sol 66, Shock 51
Miami Sandy Brondello scored 14 points as Miami beat Detroit for the second straight day and extended its winning streak to four games.
The Sol (10-9) built their lead to 20 points in the final minutes and finished with their largest margin of victory this season.
Miami shot 62.5 percent in the second half and 51.9 percent for the game. Detroit shot 28.6 percent and finished with the fewest points by a Sol opponent this season.
Deanna Nolan led Detroit (5-13) with 10 points.
Mercury 80, Lynx 67
Minneapolis Maria Stepanova matched her career high with 19 points as Phoenix beat Minnesota and snapped a two-game losing streak.
Trisha Fallon scored 14 points for the Mercury (7-12). Michele Timms and Jennifer Gillom each added 13 points, and Lisa Harrison scored 12.
Katie Smith, the WNBA's leading scorer, led Minnesota with 27 points. Svetlana Abrosimova added 18 points and Erin Buescher scored 10 as the Lynx lost for the seventh time in eight games and dropped into last place in the Western Conference at 6-12.