SEATTLE, Aug. 15 (Ticker) -- Lisa Leslie and Mwadi Mabika gave the Seattle Storm a rough introduction to playoff basketball.

Leslie had 24 points and nine rebounds and Mabika 23, seven and six assists as the defending champion Los Angeles Sparks pulled away from the Storm in a 78-61 victory in Game 1 of their Western Conference first-round playoff matchup.

Seattle, which was playing its first postseason game, trailed for nearly the entire contest but was behind just 46-43 after Lauren Jackson's layup with 15:02 to play. But Leslie countered with back-to-back baskets to start a 20-4 run, which was capped by a 3-pointer by DeLisha Milton with 7:52 remaining.

Tamecka Dixon scored 12 points and Milton 11 for the Sparks, who shot 56 percent (33-of-59) and limited the Storm to 35 percent (19-of-54).

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Jackson had 19 points and rookie Sue Bird 11 and eight assists for Seattle, which had won two of three regular-season matchups against Los Angeles.

The Sparks, who won all three of their road contests en route to the league title last season, took the lead for good at 9-7 on a basket by Mabika with 16:50 to go in the first half.

Game 2 of the best-of-three series is Saturday in Los Angeles.