The Sparks' version of Shaq The Slapper, Mwadi Mabika, missed a long 3-point attempt at the buzzer, so the Starzz got the immediate revenge that the Jazz didn't; the Jazz lost 104-87 on Halloween after O'Neal slapped Ostertag to the floor during a shootaround.
The Starzz broke a 10-game road-losing streak that dated back to July 22, 1997, at New York and was only the franchise's third road win in its 11/4-season history.
Having already had words with some L.A. players who hacked her arms and caused her to travel less than three minutes into the second half, the normally reserved Dydek tangled with 5-11 Mabika under the Sparks' basket and was called for a foul. Dydek's hands were still near the ball, which Mabika pulled away with her left hand and used her right for a roundhouse open-hand slap to Dydek's left cheek. Dydek was on her knees at the time.
"I will remember it," said Dydek, who hit the first of two technical free throws at the 16:30 mark and scored a basket next time down the court. "Sometimes you can tell in my face that I am angry, and sometimes I just explode," Dydek said on a TV interview.
After making two more free throws at 14:23, Dydek was rested, and L.A. got its biggest lead of the game, seven points. With reserves Kim Williams and Olympia Scott adding fresh legs, Utah went on a 12-5 run that put the Starzz up 50-48. L.A. would go up 57-54 with about six minutes to play - and not score again, even though Scott played a possession without one shoe, which came off as she rebounded a Lisa Leslie miss.
Utah's defense forced poor shots and a shot-clock violation that was followed by a Chantel Tremitiere 3-pointer taken in a patient manner to tie at 57.
Both teams, trying desperately to shake losing streaks, rushed too much, and when Baranova got a loose ball, Penny Toler fouled her rather than let Utah try to set up a shot with :03 left.
Baranova's free throw kept Dydek from being the goat because, with :23.6 left, 57-57, she threw a pass directly to L.A.'s Pam McGee after an inbounds play, but the Sparks couldn't score. Williams knocked the ball loose and went to the floor with Tamecka Dixon. The ball came loose and Tremitiere and Toler battled. It went out of bounds off Tremitiere, but L.A. didn't have long on the shot clock.
"I know I have to work a lot with turnovers, like the last one," Dydek said sheepishly. She recalled Tuesday's double-overtime loss to Houston in the Delta Center and said, "It's not good for us to play overtime."
Dydek led Utah with 15 points, nine rebounds and four blocks. Williams added nine points and Scott eight on 4-for-5 shooting. Leslie paced the Sparks with 15 points, 10 rebounds and two blocks, and Dixon had 13.
Utah got today off in L.A., then moves on to Sacramento to play the Monarchs Sunday. The same two teams play in the Delta Center Monday.