Leslie Powers Sparks Past Silver Stars

Sparks 85, Silver Stars 70 (F)
Check out highlights of Los Angeles' home victory over San Antonio in Game 1 of the Western Conference Finals.
Los Angeles 85, San Antonio 70

LOS ANGELES, Sept. 25 (AP) - Lisa Leslie had 22 points, seven rebounds and four assists to lead the Los Angeles Sparks to an 85-70 victory over the San Antonio Silver Stars on Thursday night in Game 1 of the Western Conference finals.

The Sparks took a 1-0 lead in the best-of-three series, which resumes Saturday in San Antonio.

"I feel like I'm really beginning to peak,'' said Leslie, 36, who played for the United States in the Olympics after missing last season to give birth to her first child.

"This is a really good time for me,'' she said. "I feel like my stamina is much better. I'm sure some of the other players around the league are probably a little more tired than I am.''

Candace Parker, Temeka Johnson and Marie Ferdinand-Harris each added 14 points for the Sparks. Parker grabbed 12 rebounds and Johnson had eight assists.

Ann Wauters led the Silver Stars with 18 points and Sophia Young had 16. Becky Hammon, who was averaging 19.3 points in the playoffs, was held to nine.

Los Angeles shot 53 percent, outrebounded San Antonio 37-21 and amassed 27 assists to the Silver Stars' 16.

"We know we have to put pressure on Becky and handle the pick-and-roll,'' Sparks coach Michael Cooper said. "We took them out of a lot of their first and second (scoring) options, and made them go to their third and fourth.

"About six or seven times in the second half, they were shooting with 6 seconds or less on the shot clock.''

The Sparks, who trailed by as many as nine points, used an 11-0 spurt to take a 48-39 halftime lead. Leslie led the surge with six points and the Silver Stars failed to score in the final 3:43 of the first half.

"In the second quarter, the tempo really changed,'' Silver Stars coach Dan Hughes said. "I didn't think we did a good job in our transition defense, and they got a lot of scoring out of that. Offensively, we didn't attack and execute well.''

Erin Buescher made a 3-pointer and a reverse layup to narrow San Antonio's deficit to 74-68 with 5:05 to play. But Ferdinand-Harris scored four points during a 6-0 spurt that extended the Sparks' lead to 80-68 with 2:58 left.

The winner of the series will play either the Detroit Shock or New York Liberty for the WNBA championship.

The game was played at the University of Southern California's Galen Center because of a scheduling conflict at the Sparks' regular home court, Staples Center.

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