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Sparks' Lisa Leslie says knee is healing well

The center hopes to return as early as July 22, though she hasn't received medical clearance to run.

July 02, 2009|Mark Medina

Having missed three games because of a sprained right knee, Sparks center Lisa Leslie said Wednesday she will return to the lineup as early as July 22, when the Sparks visit the Seattle Storm.

"It's already better," she said after practicing with the team. "The doctor said, 'You're much further ahead.' "

Leslie's new timetable means she will miss four more games: Sunday at home against the Phoenix Mercury, and then a trip to play the New York Liberty (July 9) the Washington Mystics (July 11) and the Connecticut Sun (July 14). She was expected to miss at least six games.

On Wednesday, she shot jumpers for the second straight day but hasn't received medical clearance to run. Leslie, who hurt her knee in a June 19 game, hopes she can participate in running drills by Friday.

"I have to wait until the team comes back so I can get some practice," Leslie said. "There's no use me traveling with them and getting in shape when I can't play. I could be here without the plane ride and without the travel and, instead, get therapy and run and shoot and just get ready."

Leslie maintained, however, that the Sparks will still "win a WNBA championship."

"There's enough time for teams to flip flop and for us to get it together and get our chemistry," Leslie said.

"The problem isn't at home obviously. We play well at home. We've got to find and take that same team on the road."

Meanwhile, the Sparks' Candace Parker participated in her second practice since going on maternity leave and won a $100 bet from Coach Michael Cooper for dunking.

"You can tell there's a little bit of rust," he said of Parker. "But as I told everybody, 50% of Candace is pretty good in this league."

Parker worked out mostly with the reserves.

"The biggest thing coming off a pregnancy is you see the ball and your mind is telling you to go get it, but sometimes you're a little sluggish," she said.

Parker said she and Cooper are evaluating her return by Friday, but both ruled out her playing Sunday against Phoenix.

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mark.medina@latimes.com

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