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Sparks hold off Monarchs, 59-56

Aug 2, 2009 - 5:40 AM SACRAMENTO, Calif.(AP) -- Candace Parker had 13 points and 12 rebounds, and DeLisha Milton-Jones also scored 13 points in the Los Angeles Sparks' 59-56 victory over the Sacramento Monarchs on Saturday night.

With the Sparks (6-10) clinging to a one-point lead and scoreless for over 5 minutes, Parker broke free for a lob under the basket, taking an inbounds pass from Milton-Jones. The shot put Los Angeles ahead 57-54 with 25.5 seconds left.

"It was a nice little screen, I curled and got the nice lob from DeLisha," said Parker, who had her most productive game of the season. "I've told everyone I will evaluate myself after a month, so I still have some time before that."

It hadn't been much of a season for Parker or the Sparks prior to Saturday's win. Parker got married in the offseason, gave birth to a daughter on May 13 and missed the first eight games while recovering.

She has struggled to regain her form from last season, when she won the league's MVP and Rookie of the Year awards. Los Angeles has also struggled while playing 12 road games, but will have seven of their next eight at home.

"It will be nice to sleep in our own beds and get out of the hotels," Parker said. "Everyone has already counted this team out, but we're not done yet. If we win on Tuesday we're in fourth place."

Tina Thompson had 10 points for the Sparks, outscored 11-8 in the fourth quarter.

Nicole Powell had 18 points for Sacramento (5-16), which has four losses by four points or fewer this season.

"Defense isn't enough, you've got to do it on offense as well," Powell said. "You have to be sharp and be able to execute. We need to start playing the whole game."

After Ticha Penicheiro pulled the Monarchs within one with 7 seconds left, Lindsay Wisdom-Hylton made two free throws less than a second later. Powell shot an air ball with 2 seconds left as the Sparks secured the victory.

Neither team could get anything going offensively in a fourth quarter characterized by missed opportunities.

"We stuck together in the most adverse moments, that's how we got this win," Milton-Jones said. "To get a game in Sacramento is always tough, so this is a great feeling right now for us. We're on cloud nine."

After a horrible second quarter offensively, the Sparks rebounded in the third. Even with Parker going to the bench early in the period, the Sparks efficiently cut into the Sacramento's 32-27 halftime lead.

Milton-Jones scored seven points and Wisdom-Hylton had six in the third quarter for Los Angeles which had 24-13 advantage in the period and went into the fourth leading 51-45.

The Sparks finished 3-4 in a stretch of road games that began July 9 in New York. The Sparks, 2-10 away from Staples Center, host San Antonio on Tuesday in their first home game since July 5. The Monarchs have also been hampered by a rough schedule in the first half of the season, playing 12 of their first 19 games on the road.

Parker had nine points and six rebounds in the first quarter to help the Sparks take a 21-13 lead. Los Angeles then had a stretch of nearly 7 minutes without a basket, starting late in the first quarter and extending far into the second.

Powell made three 3-pointers and scored 13 first half points, and the Monarchs used a 19-6 scoring edge in the second quarter to take their halftime lead.

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