Los Angeles 69, Seattle 59
Leslie Leads Sparks Back to West Finals
LOS ANGELES, Aug. 17 (Ticker) -- A typical effort by Lisa Leslie has put the Los Angeles Sparks in a typical spot.
The defending WNBA champions advanced to the Western Conference Finals for the third straight season and will meet Houston or Utah in a series that begins Thursday on the road.
Leslie made 10-of-16 shots Saturday and averaged 23.5 points and 8.5 rebounds in the two victories over Seattle. Tamecka Dixon chipped in with 15 points.
Rookie Nikki Teasley scored four points to trigger a 13-2 run that gave the Sparks their largest lead at 46-31 with 12:42 remaining. Seattle made just 1-of-6 shots and committed four turnovers in that span.
The Storm finally found a rhythm and used a 14-2 run to pull within 56-54 on a 3-pointer by rookie Sue Bird with just over three minutes remaining. They were still within two when a pair of free throws by Lauren Jackson cut the deficit to 58-56 with 2½ minutes left to play.
Seattle had a chance to tie or take the lead but Michelle Marciniak forced a jumper that missed badly. The Sparks grabbed the rebound and Dixon's three-point play restored a five-point cushion.
Teasley made two foul shots and Marciniak committed a turnover that led to a layup by Dixon for a 65-56 advantage with 60 seconds to go.
Bird and Kamila Vodichkova scored 17 points apiece to lead Seattle. Jackson made just 1-of-9 shots for four points.