Leslie Is Right, but Sparks All Wrong


Lisa Leslie can't do it by herself.

That much was clear at the Great Western Forum on Wednesday night, when the Sparks continued their early season slide, losing to the Charlotte Sting, 77-73, before an announced 5,000.

She scored 30 points, but it wasn't enough to keep her Sparks from losing their second straight home game. The Sparks dropped to 2-4, and have to visit WNBA champion Houston on Saturday.

Charlotte (5-1), on top in the Eastern Conference, out-played Los Angeles despite playing without injured 6-foot-3 starter Rhonda Mapp, who averaged 12 points and six rebounds last season.

But that void was more than filled by 6-2 Tracy Reid, the North Carolina rookie chosen seventh on the first round of the WNBA draft. Against the Sparks, she looked like she should have been drafted first.

She had 18 points, despite being six for 13 on free throws, and eight rebounds.

Reid's powerful, high-leaping inside game overwhelmed the Sparks. Leslie fouled out with a minute left, trying to guard her.

It was a wire-to-wire victory for Charlotte. The Sting jumped to a 12-3 lead, and although Los Angeles closed to within two points with 6:33 and 1:33 left, and to within one with 42 seconds to go, Charlotte never let go.

The Sparks have lost four of their last five games and have yet to beat a winning team.

The Sparks were in the hunt with 42 seconds to go, when Penny Toler made a 10-foot baseline jump shot to trim Charlotte's lead to 74-73. But Andrea Stinson, who scored Charlotte's last four points on free throws, made it 76-73 with 15 seconds left.

The Sparks' final chance disappeared on an airball by Dixon with four seconds left.

The shot pretty much summed it up for Los Angeles, which shot 39% (61% on free throws) to Charlotte's 48%.

Leslie came in as the league's leading leading rebounder, but Charlotte blocked her out and she had only three. She was 10 for 16 shooting, and 10 for 12 from the line.

Guard Jamila Wideman, her back improved, was activated before the game. She saw brief minutes in both halves.

WNBA Notes

Detroit Shock player Lynette Woodard and broadcaster Mimi Griffin are leading candidates to become the first chief of a yet-to-be formed WNBA players union. New York Liberty and Cleveland Rockers players met with NBA Players Assn., representatives after their game Tuesday night in New York, and a source said there were 19 yes votes (three abstained) on being represented by a proposed WNBA unit of the NBA Players Assn. . . . At Phoenix, the Mercury defeated the previously unbeaten Houston Comets, 69-66.

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