for this game

Sparks beat Mystics 81-75 for first win of season

May 29, 2010 - 5:39 AM By BETH HARRIS AP Sports Writer

LOS ANGELES(AP) -- The Los Angelkes Sparks finally had their entire roster at practice this week and the togetherness led to their first win of the season.

Candace Parker had a season-high 30 points and 10 rebounds, and Los Angeles defeated the Washington Mystics 81-75 on Friday night in its home opener.

Parker went over the 1,000-point mark four games into her third WNBA season and now has 1,114. She recorded her fourth double-double in as many games.

"I knew she would have a great night because she had three good practices in a row and came in early to work," new Sparks coach Jennifer Gillom said. "We're starting to execute better at both ends and I knew in time it would come."

The Sparks are playing their first season since Lisa Leslie retired and turned the team over to Parker. Leslie was at the game doing TV commentary.

"I feel like we had a great week of practice," Parker said. "I was really pushed in practice. My teammates did a good job of getting me the ball in the right spots."

Injuries and the absence of veteran players who came in from overseas prevented the Sparks from adjusting to a new system and a new coach while losing their first three games on the road.

"We've been getting booed at and getting called names on the road," Gillom said. "So it was great hearing people cheer for us."

Tina Thompson added 15 points for the Sparks (1-3) and DeLisha Milton-Jones added 14 points despite foul trouble.

"I liked our effort," Parker said. "We started off the third quarter a little slow but you could tell we had our intensity and effort. I liked our offense. We were moving and hitting each other."

Katie Smith scored 15 points for the Mystics, who lost their third straight after opening with five straight wins. Monique Currie and Crystal Langhorne added 13 points each.

"We played a solid second half, but you just can't dig yourself that big of a hole. Our transition defense wasn't very good, they got easy buckets," Smith said. "We were fighting the rest of the way and at that point you need to make everything go your way to finish it off."

The Sparks watched an 11-point lead dwindle to four points five times in the fourth quarter. Kristi Toliver missed two free throws with the Sparks leading 77-73 with 39 seconds left.

Smith missed a driving layup with 11 seconds to go, and Currie fouled Parker, who made both for a 79-73 lead. Currie scored and after a timeout, and the Mystics were forced to foul Parker in the backcourt. She made both to close out the scoring.

"Candace is very talented," Currie said. "Obviously, you can help to try and contain her, take away things she's comfortable doing, make her take long shots, but she had a very good game."

The Mystics cut a 14-point halftime deficit to three points with a 13-2 run to open the third quarter, when they outscored the Sparks. Smith and Langhorne scored four points each.

The Sparks answered with a 20-13 spurt to repel the threat and take a 66-56 lead into the fourth quarter. Toliver had seven points, including a buzzer-beating 3-pointer to end the period, Lindsay Wisdom-Hylton added six and Parker five in the run.

"The Sparks have a great team," Mystics coach Julie Plank said. "They could easily be 4-0."

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