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Holdsclaw Steers Spark Show

She leads a first-half L.A. surge and finishes with 27 points and 10 rebounds in a 76-65 victory over Seattle. Thomas injures ankle.

June 25, 2005|Mike Terry | Times Staff Writer

One danger in having an offensive standout like Chamique Holdsclaw is the tendency to stand around and watch her work -- especially when she's having a hot game.

On Friday, the Sparks had their share of moments viewing Holdsclaw, who matched her season high with 27 points and added 10 rebounds against Seattle. But they did plenty of other things too, to earn a 76-65 victory in front of an announced 7,833 at Staples Center.

In gaining their second victory over the defending league champions this season, Los Angeles (7-5) commanded the boards, 37-23, including a 19-4 edge in offensive rebounds. Even though Seattle (7-5) shot 46.4% as a team, only one of the Storm stars -- Lauren Jackson, with 21 points -- reached double figures. The clamps put on Betty Lennox and Sue Bird, who were limited to seven and nine points, kept the Storm offense operating at a low buzz most of the night.

And the Sparks had others to turn to besides Holdsclaw, who had 17 points in the first half and made 10 of 20 shots for the game. Tamika Whitmore added 16 points and eight rebounds. Lisa Leslie had 14 points and seven rebounds while battling through foul trouble.

"We had a lot more energy tonight than we did [against Connecticut]," Holdsclaw said. "And, most important, we played defense. When we play defense, and help each other out, it creates opportunities for us to get easy points.

"Sometimes when teams score on us you see us get the ball out slowly and walk it up the court. Today we just pushed it; everybody was running."

But the Sparks were also willing to let Holdsclaw carry them early on as they built a 38-33 halftime lead.

"If we're doing a lot of watching, we're definitely not doing what we practice," said Nikki Teasley, who had eight points and two assists. "The plan is not to stand around and watch. But we do feel we have an advantage with Lisa and Chamique. They're the best at their positions and nobody can guard them.

"Still it was big to beat the defending champions after coming off a bad loss. This was an important game for us. It should give us confidence going into [Sunday's] game against Detroit."

The only downer for the Sparks was the potential long-term loss of reserve center Christi Thomas. She was grabbing a rebound with 14:39 to play in the first half and came down on one foot. Unfortunately it was her right foot, which was surgically repaired at the end of last season. Her foot slid, her ankle turned and Thomas ended up writhing in pain. She was carried off the floor. The initial diagnosis was an ankle sprain; an MRI will be scheduled next week.

"I'm not quite sure what happened," said Thomas, who was on crutches.

Spark Coach Henry Bibby said Thomas would probably travel to Detroit but didn't expect her to be available.

Seattle Coach Anne Donovan would not have minded if Holdsclaw had not been available.

"She's always good," Donovan said. "No one is ever going to shut her down, unless you double-team her and give somebody else up. She has proven what a great player she is, adopting to a different system and different players and she just continues to shine."

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