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Sparks Hit Century Mark

WNBA: First-place L.A. ties a club record for most points, routing Utah, 102-75.

July 08, 2002|MIKE TERRY | TIMES STAFF WRITER

Two things were made clear Sunday when the Sparks reached the season's halfway point.

With a 14-2 record, the Sparks are a game better than they were at this point last year. And Los Angeles beats Utah like no other team.

The Sparks pounded the Starzz, 102-75, before 10,896 at Staples Center. It was the Sparks' biggest scoring output this year, tying the team record for points--set against Utah on June 28, 1999.

The Sparks shot 53% (38 of 72) and led by as many as 30, putting the team in a good frame of mind for its five-game trip that starts in Seattle on Thursday.

"Yesterday while preparing for this game, we wanted to make sure we set [the kind of] pace for how we're going to play on the road," said Spark Coach Michael Cooper, whose team leads Houston by a half-game in the Western Conference. "Utah is no slouch; they're a good defensive team and they can put points on the board.

"It's nice to score 100 points. I wish all games could be like this."

They can be when the Sparks have their offense flowing. Lisa Leslie, who celebrated her 30th birthday and was named the starting center for the West All-Stars, scored 10 of her 13 points in the first three minutes. She also gave her latest health update.

"I'm feeling much better, and have put back on half of the 10 pounds I lost," said Leslie, who is listed at 170 pounds, and has been fighting fatigue from flulike symptoms. "I've been trying to replace every pound I lost with liquids. [The trainers] keep trying to keep measuring what my weight is and replenish me with fluid."

Tamecka Dixon looked especially good, making eight of 14 shots and leading all scorers with 20. Mwadi Mabika and DeLisha Milton each had 14.

Adrienne Goodson led Utah (10-6) with 14 points, making only four of 18 shots. But she wasn't the only one throwing up bricks, as the Starzz made only 25 of 69 (36.2%).

"Utah is a team on the rise and they are playing well right now." Dixon said. "We wanted to come out and assert ourselves immediately."

The Starzz have been operating under the Western Conference radar most of the season, serving as the bridge between the top teams--Los Angeles and Houston--and everyone else.

"I'm glad no one has been paying attention to us," Utah Coach Candi Harvey said. "We've been trying to take things calmly and orderly, one game at a time."

But while the Starzz believe they can beat the Sparks or Comets, Harvey knows her team has to prove it on the court.

"The only way we could beat Los Angeles here is to turn it into a half-court game and hope some of their shooters aren't having a hot night," Harvey said. "That, and get some of their people in foul trouble."

The strategy had no teeth early. as the Sparks came out flying. Leslie made her first three shots and scored eight of the Sparks' first 10 points. Her scoring touch spread to her teammates. Eight of the nine players who got into the game had at least one basket.

*

In other WNBA games:

Miami 65, Seattle 61--The Sol's Betty Lennox scored 19 points and Pollyanna Johns Kimbrough had four of her 10 in overtime at Miami.

Portland 74, Sacramento 59--DeMya Walker scored 15 points as host Portland extended its team-record winning streak to six games.

*

Sheryl Swoopes of the Houston Comets was the top vote-getter in final fan balloting to choose the starters for the All-Star game.

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