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Silver Stars-Sparks Preview
By MATT BECKER, STATS Writer

The San Antonio Silver Stars showed no signs of rust after the month-long Olympic break, routing the worst team in the Western Conference in their first game back. They expect to face a much tougher test in their next contest.

The conference-leading Silver Stars look to build off an impressive victory and win their third straight game when they visit the Los Angeles Sparks on Saturday.

In its first game since beating Detroit 76-64 on July 27, San Antonio (19-9) crushed Phoenix 77-55 on Thursday for its most lopsided win of the season.

The Silver Stars held the Mercury to six points on 3-of-17 shooting in the second quarter and led 45-21 at halftime. San Antonio, which has the third-best field goal defense in the league at 40.3 percent, limited Phoenix to 27.5 percent shooting (19-of-69) overall.

The Stars also had a strong performance offensively, as Sophia Young scored 18 points 9-of-14 shooting and Ann Wauters finished with 15 on 7-of-12 from the field. Becky Hammon, winner of a bronze medal playing for Russia at the Beijing Olympics, added 13 points.

San Antonio padded its WNBA-best record with the dominating performance against the Mercury, but it had a tough time in its last game against Los Angeles (16-12).

On July 14, the Sparks snapped the Silver Stars' season-high seven-game winning streak with a 75-62 victory at Staples Center. Young, who leads San Antonio with 18.2 points per game, was limited to 10 on 1-of-5 shooting and the Silver Stars were outrebounded 41-24.

Young had 20 points in San Antonio's other game against the Sparks this season, a 77-75 home victory June 20.

Los Angeles' Candace Parker had 24 points and 10 rebounds in the victory over the Silver Stars last month, and helped lead her team to a 78-63 win over Sacramento on Thursday.

Parker had 19 points, nine rebounds and five blocks for the Sparks, who are in third place in the West, three games back of the Silver Stars. Los Angeles, leading the league in field-goal percentage defense at 38.6, held the Monarchs to 31.0 percent.

Parker, Lisa Leslie and DeLisha Milton-Jones played in their first game since helping the United States win the gold medal in Beijing, and didn't seem to be suffering from Olympic fatigue. Leslie had 14 points and eight blocks, while Milton-Jones added 11 points and eight boards.

"We're a little loopy, to be honest with you,'' Leslie said. "I don't know what time it is. We love playing basketball and I think our bodies kind of know what to do. Our defense was very solid and we pretty much picked up where we left off.''

Leslie is averaging 12.5 points and 10.0 rebounds in two games versus San Antonio this season, while Parker averaged 25.5 points on 63.3 percent shooting in those contests.

The Silver Stars and Sparks meet again Friday in San Antonio.

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