Cynthia Cooper scored a season-high 42 points, two shy of her career high, as the Comets overcame thoughts of cancer-stricken Kim Perrot and beat the Utah Starzz, 80-71, last night in Houston.

Perrot remained in the intensive care unit at M.D. Anderson Cancer Center in Houston while the Comets tried to shake their emotions and face the Starzz.

Fans wore white ribbons honoring Perrot, the starting point guard on each of the Comets' two WNBA championship teams. Other fans wore pink hearts with "Kim" inscribed on them.

Houston players filed solemnly onto the court for pregame warmups. Cooper had tears in her eyes during the singing of the national anthem. Each player wore white stickers bearing Perrot's No. 10.

Cooper scored 22 first-half points that helped the Comets to a 41-25 lead at intermission, but Houston almost blew a 17-point lead in the second half.

The Comets led 50-33 with 13 minutes 50 seconds remaining when the Starzz went on a 21-7 run that cut Houston's lead to 57-54 with 5:53 to play. Utah trailed 64-62 with 2:37 left.

The Comets scored the next seven points on two free throws by Cooper, a basket by Sheryl Swoopes and a three-point play by Cooper for a 71-62 lead.

As the final seconds ticked down, fans chanted, "We love you, Kim."

LYNX 57, ROCKERS 50: Tonya Edwards was just the player Cleveland wanted at the free throw line. And that's just where Edwards wanted to be, too.

"I always think I can hit a free throw, so when all else fails, go to the free throw line," said Edwards, whose two foul shots with 24 seconds left helped lead Minnesota past the visiting Rockers. "You gain confidence shooting a free throw. It's free, so you don't have to work as hard for it."

The Lynx (14-15) never led by more than two points until they went on an 8-0 run in the final minute. Edwards's free throws put the Lynx on top 53-50.

After Sonja Tate stole the inbounds pass, Katie Smith was fouled and made two more shots. Smith then stole the ball and scored on a layup, capping the scoring and her 15-point night.

Eva Nemcova's jumper with just over a minute remaining put Cleveland (6-24) ahead, 50-49, but the Lynx regained the lead for good when Andrea Lloyd-Curry made two foul shots with 41 seconds left.

SPARKS 76, STING 65: Lisa Leslie scored 25 points and Gordana Grubin made two late three-pointers as Los Angeles clinched its first playoff berth with the home victory.

The Sparks (18-11) moved within a half-game of idle Sacramento (19-11) in the race for second place in the Western Conference and home-court advantage for the Aug. 24 semifinal.