Liberty 68, Comets 62

-- Becky Hammon is adjusting well to her new leadership role.

Hammon scored 10 of her 22 points in the final six minutes and the New York Liberty won its home opener, 68-62, over the Houston Comets on Sunday.

"I helped our team down the stretch," Hammon said. "It was me tonight but it will be someone else another night. The point guard position takes a natural leadership role, so being a leader is something that I have to do every day."

Hammon switched to the point this season in place of Teresa Weatherspoon, who signed with Los Angeles in the offseason after seven years in New York.

"Things have changed around here, not for the better and not for the worse," Hammon said. "Things are just different, and as long as we play together we will win."

Tina Thompson had a career-high 35 points and eight rebounds, and Sheryl Swoopes added 15 points for the Comets. Houston has lost six straight regular season games at Madison Square Garden since a 79-54 victory on July 8, 1998.

Elena Baranova had 12 points and 14 rebounds, and Vickie Johnson added 11 points and six assists for the Liberty.

After Thompson hit two free throws to tie the score for the last time at 54 with 7 minutes 45 seconds to go, Hammon gave New York the lead for good two minutes later with a three-point play.

New York shot 43 percent (25 for 58) -- including 5 for 13 on three-pointers -- while limiting Houston to 34 percent shooting (22 for 64).

"We broke down on our individual defense," Comets Coach Van Chancellor said. "They did a great job."

The Liberty led 30-27 at halftime and stretched the lead to six on Crystal Robinson's three-pointer in the opening minute of the second half.

Thompson, whose previous career high was 31 points at Portland on June 23, 2002, pulled Houston within 57-56 on two free throws with 51/2 minutes left.

"Tina had a great game, but fortunately we were able to stop the rest of the team," Liberty Coach Richie Adubato said.

Hammon then took over for the Liberty, driving through the lane and hitting shots and drawing fouls down the stretch. She hit a jumper and then converted a three-point play to give the Liberty a 62-56 lead with 3:14 left.

"I liked how she pushed the ball," Adubato said. "I thought she did a very good job. Her decision making was good and her clutch shooting was great."

The Comets got within two points again on a pair of free throws by Thompson with 2:19 remaining, but New York scored the game's final six points.

Dominique Canty shoots over Liberty's Kristen Brooke Sharp, but the Comets could never catch up, despite 35 points from Tina Thompson.