Mabika, Leslie Spark L.A. Over Shock
LOS ANGELES (AP) _ Mwadi Mabika scored 24 points, Lisa Leslie had 22 and 11 rebounds and the Los Angeles Sparks beat the Detroit Shock 86-78 to win their home opener Wednesday night.
Temeka Johnson added 19 points, six assists and six rebounds for the Sparks, who had a 3-3 record in their first six games on the road.
Ruth Riley led the Shock with 19 points.
Chamique Holdsclaw had 13 points off the bench in her first game with the Sparks after missing the season’s opening two weeks to be with her father and stepfather, who both have cancer.
The Sparks raced to an 18-9 lead in the first quarter before the Shock rallied to tie the game and take a two-point lead. But Los Angeles went back in front, helped by Johnson’s jumper that banked in just before the buzzer.
Detroit kept it close before getting within four early in the third period. That’s when the Sparks took over for good, outscoring the Shock 21-16 in the quarter to lead 65-54 with 10 minutes remaining. Leslie, Mabika and Johnson scored all but two of the Sparks’ points.
Leslie and Johnson, a 5-foot-3 fireplug who fearlessly drove the lane, controlled a stretch early in the fourth quarter with a combined seven consecutive points that stretched the Sparks’ lead to 13.
The Shock got within four on Swin Cash’s fastbreak layin off Johnson’s turnover. But Holdsclaw scored three in a row and Los Angeles hung on.
Joe Bryant improved to 4-0 at home as Sparks coach since taking over last season, when the team won its final three home games _ including his first WNBA victory against Detroit.