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WNBA PLAYOFFS

Sparks to face tough road challenge in Game 2

Los Angeles leads the best-of-three series, 1-0, but the Seattle Storm is 13-4 at home this season.

September 18, 2009|Mark Medina

After playing for Pat Riley in the Lakers' Showtime era, Sparks Coach Michael Cooper says he has followed one philosophy regarding the postseason.

"Coach Riley used to say the playoffs don't start until the other team wins on the other team's home court," said Cooper, whose team has a 1-0 lead entering Game 2 tonight at Seattle in the Western Conference's best-of-three semifinals.

"We're trying to get this second one and hopefully we won't have to make adjustments after that."

A win tonight would eliminate Seattle from the first round for the fifth consecutive season and would mark the third time in four years the Sparks have defeated the Storm in the semifinals.

That won't come easy, though, despite Seattle Coach Brian Agler saying two-time most valuable player Lauren Jackson (two stress fractures) and reserve guard Katie Gearlds (knee) will be absent again in this series. On Wednesday, others filled in, including Swin Cash (24 points), Suzy Batkovic-Brown (16) and Tanisha Wright (13).

"This team is a little more dangerous without Lauren Jackson," said Sparks center Lisa Leslie, who's had her fair share of physical encounters with the Storm's center. "When Lauren is playing, you know where the offensive schemes are going, you know who's going to get in the ball and where they're going to go.

"Without her out there, you have no idea who's going to shoot it and drive it."

The Sparks say that problem will provide an additional challenge, thanks to the Storm's 13-4 home record.

Said Leslie: "It's going to be more difficult in Seattle, so we really have to play smart basketball."

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mark.medina@latimes.com

twitter.com.latimesmedina

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