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Sparks advance to finals

Posted: Tuesday, September 09, 2003

LOS ANGELES (AP) Lisa Leslie hit a tiebreaking jumper with 9.8 seconds remaining and a pair of free throws with 6 seconds left to send the Los Angeles Sparks to the WNBA Finals with a 66-63 victory Monday night over the Sacramento Monarchs.

Leslie finished with 26 points for the two-time defending WNBA champions, who will host the Detroit Shock starting Friday night in a best-of-3 series for the title. The coaches are former NBA opponents Bill Laimbeer of Detroit and Michael Cooper of Los Angeles.

Leslie's short jumper from the baseline made it 64-62. DeMya Walker pulled the Monarchs within a point by making the first of two free throws. But her miss of the second was rebounded by Leslie, who was fouled.

After Leslie made both foul shots, Sacramento's Kara Lawson missed on 3-point attempt at the buzzer.

Mwadi Mabika added 16 points for the Sparks. Nikki Teasley had 13 points and 10 rebounds.

Walker scored 16 points to lead the Monarchs, who got 15 from Tangela Smith. Yolanda Griffith had 10 points and 10 rebounds.

Lawson tied the Western Conference championship game at 62 on a 17-foot jumper from the right wing with 32.5 seconds left.

The Sparks called timeout, then set up Leslie on the right baseline, coming off a screen by Mabika. Leslie took a pass from Teasley on the right wing and made a 4-footer to make it 64-62.

The Sparks put together a 12-4 run to open the second half and led 50-36 with 16:04 left. But the Monarchs went on a 16-2 run of their own, tying it at 52 on two free throws by Lawson with 8:37 to go.

The Sparks took a 38-32 halftime lead on 50 percent (16-for-32) field goal shooting.



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