Archive for Sunday, August 18, 2002

WNBA Playoffs: Sparks advance to Western finals

August 18, 2002

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— The Los Angeles Sparks disposed of the pesky Seattle Storm and advanced to the Western Conference finals for the fourth consecutive year.

Lisa Leslie scored 23 points as the Sparks won 69-59 Saturday to sweep the first-round playoff series in two games.

"We've found our poise and we're understanding what playoff basketball is about because of our experience from last season," Leslie said. "It was great facing a team that we had lost to because we knew we had to come out here and get after it for 40 minutes."

The defending WNBA champions will play either Houston or Utah in the conference finals beginning Thursday. Utah leads that series 1-0.

"If we face Houston, it'll be a very hungry series for us because we have lost to them twice," Leslie said. "It would be fitting for us to play them. There's been so much talk, so much hype. I don't see it happening any other way."

The Sparks had to come from behind after trailing for the first 11 minutes. Even then, it wasn't until the second half that Los Angeles put together its first dominant run of the game.

Seattle, which won the season series with the Sparks 2-1, made a late run to pull within two points with 2:32 remaining. The Sparks countered with seven straight points to put the game away in front of 8,187 fans.

The Sparks are 7-0 in the first round since first making the playoffs in 1999. They have swept Sacramento, Phoenix, Houston and Seattle.

Sue Bird and Kamila Vodichkova led the Storm with 17 points each. Lauren Jackson had just four points, allowing the Sparks a 42-22 advantage in the paint. Seattle shot just 34.5 percent from the floor.

Jackson was just 1-of-9 from the field in 34 minutes against Leslie's defense.

Tamecka Dixon finished with 15 points for the Sparks.

Mystics 62, Sting 59

Charlotte, N.C. Coco Miller scored 21 points as Washington beat Charlotte to complete a two-game sweep in the Eastern Conference semifinals. Washington will play the winner of the Indiana-New York series for a spot in the WNBA Finals.

Chamique Holdsclaw, who led the WNBA in scoring this season, had 15 points and 11 rebounds for Washington.

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