Los Angeles 71, Seattle 70
Leslie Leads Surging Sparks To Win Over Storm
SEATTLE, July 30 (Ticker) -- Lisa Leslie continues to make a strong case for WNBA MVP.
Leslie scored 31 points, including the go-ahead basket with 1:28 to play, as the Los Angeles Sparks finally defeated the Seattle Storm, 71-70.
The Sparks won for the 10th time in 11 games and improved the league's best record to 23-6. They would not be there without Leslie, who is fourth in scoring (20.4), second in rebounding (9.9) and third in blocks (1.7).
Leslie made 14-of-24 shots while collecting five rebounds, three assists, four steals and two blocks. She committed eight turnovers but made the game's biggest basket.
After two free throws by Betty Lennox pulled Seattle into a 66-66 tie with 2:29 left, Leslie made a layup to give the Sparks the lead for good.
Chamique Holdsclaw had a fast-break layup 21 seconds later to give the Sparks a 70-66 advantage. Holdsclaw scored 10 points off the bench.
Lennox sank a jumper, and the Storm had a chance to tie. But Sue Bird threw a bad pass to Lauren Jackson that was deflected, and she stepped out of bounds trying to retrieve it.
The Storm got another chance when Jessica Moore split two free throws with 6.4 seconds to play. Lennox quickly dribbled upcourt but inexplicably went in for a layup instead of trying a 3-pointer.
Moore scored nine points for the Sparks, who had lost their first two meetings with the Storm this season but clinched home-court advantage throughout the Western Conference playoffs. Los Angeles is battling Connecticut (21-6) for the league's best record.
Jackson had 27 points and eight rebounds, Iziane Castro Marques added 17 points and Lennox 14 for Seattle (14-14), which is fourth in the West, 1 1/2 games ahead of San Antonio for the final playoff berth.