Los Angeles 89, Utah 83

GAME 1: Thursday night at the Delta Center

... 1st 2nd

Sparks 41 48 - 89

Starzz 32 51 - 83

1st half: Utah's Margo Dydek blocked L.A.'s Lisa Leslie on the first offensive possession of the game. But by the time the Starzz led 5-4 on a Wendy Palmer old-fashioned three-point play, their only lead of the game after their only two ties, Leslie was in rare form. She'd gotten the opening tip, made a layup, two free throws, a steal, missed two shots and had three rebounds in the first two minutes, 31 seconds. The Sparks' biggest lead of the half was 10 on a Penny Toler 3-pointer. Dydek blocked five first-half shots, but Utah had 10 turnovers.

2nd half: L.A. pushed its lead to 18 at 79-61 and was up 81-63 with 3:37 to play when Utah roared to life when Dydek jumped in a 16-footer from Tammi Reiss (6 second-half assists), blocked a shot from Toler, rebounded a Leslie miss and got a fifth foul on Leslie and made a free throw. Leslie fouled out on a Baranova layup with 2:22 left, and Utah was off on a 13-3 run to get within six (84- 78) with :53.6 left before having to foul. L.A. stretched it to nine on free throws, but a Chantel Tremitiere three with eight seconds left made it six again.

Quotable: "I think of her as maybe Magic Johnson and (Larry) Bird. I respect (Elena Baranova) as a player, but I always want to out-play her." - Lisa Leslie on her rivalry with the the Starzz's Elena Baranova.

Records: Utah 0-1; Los Angeles 1-0

Next Up: Starzz host expansion Washington Mystics Saturday at 7 p.m.