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L.A. makes West final a 4th year

©Associated Press
August 18, 2002

LOS ANGELES -- The Sparks disposed of Seattle and advanced to the Western Conference final a fourth consecutive year. Lisa Leslie scored 23 as Los Angeles won 69-59 Saturday to sweep the first-round playoff series in two games.

"We've found our poise and we're understanding what playoff basketball is about because of our experience from last season," Leslie said. "It was great facing a team that we had lost to because we knew we had to come out here and get after it for 40 minutes."

Defending champion Los Angeles play either Houston or Utah beginning Thursday night. Utah leads that best-of-three series 1-0.

The Sparks came from behind after trailing the first 11 minutes. Los Angeles put together its first dominant run in the second half. Seattle, which won the season series 2-1, made a late run to get within two with 2:32 left. The Sparks countered with seven straight points.

"They responded as the world champion would," coach Lin Dunn said. "I don't think there's any doubt that they're the best team in the world. I don't see anybody being able to beat them."

The Sparks are 7-0 in the first round since first making the playoffs in 1999. They have swept Sacramento, Phoenix, Houston and Seattle in that span.

WASHINGTON 62, CHARLOTTE 59: Coco Miller, the league's most improved player, scored 21 and led the visiting Mystics, who were 10-22 last season, to a 2-0 sweep in the East semifinals. Chamique Holdsclaw, who led the league in scoring, had 15 points and 11 rebounds for Washington. Andrea Stinson led Charlotte with 14 points but was scoreless in the second half. Washington plays the winner of the Indiana-New York series. The Sting, meanwhile, awaits its fate in Charlotte. Last year's conference champion has been a lame-duck franchise since the NBA's Hornets moved to New Orleans and the WNBA assumed control. Their existence in Charlotte hinges largely on the city's bid to land an expansion NBA team.


CAVALIERS: Ricky Davis signed an offer sheet with Minnesota, and Cleveland has 15 days to match the deal. General manager Jim Paxson would not confirm details of the offer, saying he will take all of the allotted time to decide whether to keep the 6-foot-7 guard. The 22-year-old Davis averaged 11.7 points last season, and 21.6 in his last 13 games.

SUPERCUP: Sacramento's Predrag Stojakovic scored 26 to lead visiting Yugoslavia past Dirk Nowitzki and Germany 88-87 in double overtime in the tuneup for the World Championships beginning Aug. 29. Dallas forward Nowitzki scored 25, including a 3-pointer with 2.2 seconds left in regulation. Yugoslavia and Germany finished the round-robin event with 2-1 records. Yugoslavia won because of the head-to-head victory. Lithuania beat New Zealand 85-75 to finish third. Both teams went 1-2.

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