Los Angeles 78, Seattle 70
Sparks Use Big Second Half to Even Series With Storm
LOS ANGELES, Aug. 20 (Ticker) -- Mwadi Mabika and Lisa Leslie knew that they had just 20 minutes to turn things around.
Mabika scored nine of her 17 points in the third quarter and Leslie contributed 17 as the Los Angeles Sparks rallied after halftime for a 78-70 victory over the Seattle Storm in Game 2 of the Western Conference semifinals.
"Our coaches told us that we have to have crazy passion about this game," Leslie said. "The second half we played with passion and put our hearts in it. We showed that we wanted the game and deserved to go to a Game 3."
Trailing, 40-33, at halftime after shooting just 29 percent from the field in the first half, Los Angeles got back into the contest at the start of the third quarter with a 12-2 run.
Mabika had six points during the surge, which was capped on a layup by Leslie for a 45-42 edge with 6:43 left.
"The third quarter was a problem for us, you have to give (Los Angeles) a lot of credit. They came out and played strong against our zone," Seattle coach Anne Donovan said. "Mabika just came after us and we didn't do a good job of shutting her down."
The Sparks took a 59-55 edge into the final period before the fourth-seeded Storm pulled even on back-to-back baskets to the start the session by Betty Lennox, who scored 19 points.
On Los Angeles' ensuing possession, Lisa Willis drilled a 3-pointer to put the hosts in front for good. The Sparks produced a decisive 8-0 spurt capped at 72-63 with a layup by Murriel Page with 4:03 to go, sealing the victory.
Lauren Jackson scored 13 points and fellow All-Star Sue Bird added eight before departing with a bloody nose. She took an unintentional shot to the face when Sparks guard Tamara Moore was making a pass.
"It is very important for me to be involved on Tuesday," said Jackson, who attempted just four shots. "It is hard with the defense they play, but we will run some different things and I will just have to work a little harder."