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Sparks center Lisa Leslie cleared to play

She resumes full-contact workouts but Coach Michael Cooper isn't sure she'll be ready to play Tuesday against San Antonio.

August 04, 2009|Mark Medina

After sitting out 11 games because of a sprained right knee, center Lisa Leslie said doctors cleared her to play today when the Sparks play host to the San Antonio Silver Stars.

However, it remains unclear when she will make her debut. When Sparks Coach Michael Cooper was asked whether Leslie will play today, he said "probably not."

"She may need more practices," he said of Leslie, who received clearance last week from doctors to participate in contact drills and did so for the first time Monday.

Cooper said Leslie probably would come off the bench when she returns, but he said he doesn't know how many minutes that would entail.

The WNBA's all-time leading scorer said she is ready.

"If Coop puts me in, I'll be playing," said Leslie, who is in her 13th and final season. "It's just basketball. I'll just get back there and play. Contribute, box out and rebound. Execute the plays, whatever we're supposed to be running."

Her clearance to play coincides with the Sparks' beginning a five-game homestand after going 3-4 in seven consecutive road games. The Sparks are in fifth place in the Western Conference, one game behind the Silver Stars for the fourth and final playoff spot.

"Watching is probably hard, but I've never lost faith in our team," Leslie said. "I really believe we're going to win a championship. It's going to be a major turnaround season."

Leslie thinks that will start against the Silver Stars.

However, the Sparks will be without Betty Lennox, the team's second-leading scorer at 13.5 points a game, who has inflammation in her left knee.

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mark.medina@latimes.com

twitter.com/latimesmedina

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