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SPARKS 79, SEATTLE 75

Noelle Quinn scores career-high 23 points in victory

August 07, 2009|Mark Medina

After watching Sparks guard Noelle Quinn pass up shots earlier in the season, General Manager Penny Toler issued an ultimatum to the former UCLA standout: If Quinn doesn't shoot at least eight shots a game, Toler will collect between $5 and $10 from her.

"I tease her all the time," Toler said. "I always tell her, 'You'll be paying my lunch.' "

Instead, Quinn made the Seattle Storm pay, as the Sparks walked away with a 79-75 overtime victory against Seattle on Thursday in front of a relieved 9,735 at Staples Center. She made a 16-foot turnaround jump shot to force overtime and then scored eight of the team's 13 points in the extra period. She finished with a career-high 23 points, topping her previous high of 13 points she set two days earlier.

"Hopefully it's one of those things where she's kidding," said Quinn, starting in place of guard Betty Lennox, who missed her third consecutive game because of inflammation in her left knee. "I don't have all that money."

For the record, Toler is joking and would've already collected between $70 and $140 if she were serious. But Quinn wouldn't have had to pay Toler on Thursday.

Instead of feeding her general manager, Quinn fed the Sparks a burst of energy with seven rebounds, three assists and two steals.

Although the Sparks stand 7-11 and trail the San Antonio Silver Stars (10-10) for the fourth and final playoff spot by two games, the victory saved them from dropping their sixth loss in eight games.

Sparks Coach Michael Cooper offered before the game: "If she continues to play that way, she may keep that starting spot."

Even though Lennox is second on the team in scoring, Cooper may have reason to strongly consider it.

Nonetheless, Quinn was just one member of a strong supporting cast.

Candace Parker's 18 points and 13 rebounds were her third consecutive double-double and fourth in five games.

Lisa Leslie scored 15 points on seven-for-14 shooting and had six rebounds and four assists in 30 minutes off the bench.

DeLisha Milton Jones' 11-point effort marked the seventh straight time she has scored in double digits.

Despite the balanced contributions, the Sparks displayed qualities that have led them to the Western Conference cellar.

"Was I happy about the game? No," Cooper said. "Was I happy about us winning? Yes. I thought we did a lot of things wrong to put ourselves in that hole."

After a 14-0 first quarter run gave the Sparks a 22-9 lead with 2:35 remaining, Seattle answered with seven consecutive points and cut the Sparks' lead at quarter's end to 22-16. The plays that led Seattle to take a 32-31 halftime lead and a 51-49 edge at the end of the third quarter defined the negative qualities the Sparks have shown most of the season.

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mark.medina@latimes.com

twitter.com/latimesmedina

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