Leslie scores 18 in Sparks' win over Silver Stars

LOS ANGELES(AP) Lisa Leslie scored 18 points and Noelle Quinn had 15 points as the Los Angeles Sparks secured a WNBA Western Conference playoff spot by rallying for a 76-68 victory over the San Antonio Silver Stars on Tuesday night.

Tina Thompson added 13 points and Candace Parker had 12 points and 13 rebounds for the Sparks (16-16), who broke a two-game losing streak.

"We just really fought hard on both ends of the court, which is really unusual for us,'' Leslie said. "We need to make that a habit.''

Shanna Crossley scored 16 points for the Silver Stars (14-17), who have lost five of eight. Sophia Young and Ann Wauters both added 13 points, and Becky Hammon had 12 points, seven assists and four rebounds.

"That's not an easy team to defend because they're so smart, they're not going to hurt themselves,'' Leslie said. "But we got our hands on a lot of deflections and that led to easier baskets in the paint.''

San Antonio, which led by as many as 10 points, held a 53-47 edge in the third quarter. Los Angeles then used a 13-2 run to move ahead 60-55 with 8:10 to play.

"They came out with a tougher mindset in the second half,'' Hammon said. "That first five minutes really determined the flow for the rest of the game, which is too bad.''

Young made a layup while being fouled and converted the ensuing free throw to narrow the Silver Stars' deficit to 60-58. But Leslie and Quinn each scored four points during a 10-3 spurt to extend Los Angeles' lead to 70-61 with 3:46 left.

The Sparks shot 50 percent and forced 18 turnovers that resulted in 23 points.

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