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Dixon's Late Basket Lifts Sparks to Win

May 11, 2003|Mike Terry | Times Staff Writer

A 19-foot jumper by Tamecka Dixon with 18 seconds remaining gave the Sparks the final lead, and the two-time defending WNBA champions went on to beat the San Antonio Silver Stars, 80-77, in an exhibition game Saturday before 3,280 fans at Long Beach State.

The Sparks' Lisa Leslie, who played center and small forward, had 25 points and 10 rebounds.

The Silver Stars will play their first season in San Antonio after being based in Salt Lake City, where they were the Utah Starzz, since 1997.

With only two exhibition games this season and final roster cuts in 10 days, both coaches used the contest to evaluate players.

"We got to see a lot of people," Spark Coach Michael Cooper said. "We did a better job in the second half defensively, but overall I'd say I was content with the game."

Jackie Stiles, acquired in the expansion draft, will not play this season because she needs surgery on her right ankle, Spark General Manager Penny Toler said.

Stiles was advised by doctors that she could rupture tendons if she continued to play.

Toler said the Sparks did not have to offer Stiles a contract -- any salary would have counted against their salary cap -- but they will retain her rights.

"She'll play next year," Toler said. "This way, she won't risk her career. We'd prefer for her to get totally healthy."

Jennifer Gillom, the former Phoenix Mercury standout who joined the Sparks as an unrestricted free agent, scored six points on two-of-10 shooting in 26 minutes.

DeLisha Milton and Mwadi Mabika completed their European seasons and will undergo physical examinations Monday before being cleared to play for the Sparks.

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