Los Angeles82, Houston 74 (F)
LOS ANGELES, July 9 (AP) -- Candace Parker scored a career-high 40 points and had 16 rebounds, six assists and five blocks to help the Los Angeles Sparks rally for a 82-74 overtime victory against the Houston Comets on Wednesday night.
"She's only getting better,'' Sparks coach Michael Cooper said of Parker, the No. 1 overall pick in this year's draft. "I think she's starting to figure this league out, and she's starting to figure out how our team can function and evolve with her - not around her, but with her.
"The reason why she's able to do what she does is because `Smooth' is still a force in this league.''
"Smooth'' is Lisa Leslie, who had 13 points for the Sparks (12-6), who moved within a half-game of first-place San Antonio in the WNBA's Western Conference.
"Our coaches really emphasize Smooth and I establishing the inside game,'' Parker said. "When you start hitting inside then crazy, fall-away, off-balance 3-pointers will bank in.
"We have great shooters so it's hard for opponents to come at us.''
Trailing 69-68 with 1.6 seconds left in regulation, Parker made the second of two free throws to force a tie and send the game into overtime.
"I was really mad that I had to go into overtime,'' Parker said. "But we ended up coming out hot. I knew that when Shannon took the ball from Tina and Michelle Snow (off the overtime tipoff) that we were going to win.''
Los Angeles used an 8-0 run in the extra period to build a 77-69 lead with 2:50 to play. Marie Ferdinand-Harris led the spree with five points.
Houston did not score in the first 2:52 of overtime and missed six of eight shots.
Los Angeles, which trailed by as many as 13 points in the first quarter, its first lead at 68-67 on Sidney Spencer's 3-pointer with 3:21 left in regulation.
Snow made two free throws to put the Comets ahead 69-68 with 3:01 left, before Parker tied the game.
Thompson scored 10 points as the Comets began the game with a 17-4 burst in the first 5:11.