Sparks 96, Mystics 76

-- The Washington Mystics got off to a bad start and it was all downhill after that as they fell, 96-76, to the Los Angeles Sparks Wednesday afternoon for their third loss in three games on a West coast trip.

Washington fell behind, 18-2, and Coach Michael Adams was ejected with 5 minutes 12 seconds left in the first half after receiving two technical fouls for arguing about a substitution.

Laura Macchi, a rookie from Italy, had career highs of 16 points and 13 rebounds for the Sparks and provided spirited defense on the Mystics' Chamique Holdsclaw, holding the WNBA's leading scorer to 15 points on 6-for-20 shooting.

Mwadi Mabika scored 21 points and Lisa Leslie had 18 for the Sparks, who scored a season high in their eighth win in nine games.

Macchi joined the Sparks this year after averaging 23 points and 6.5 rebounds for Pool Comense in Italy. She also played eight years for Italy's junior national team.

"I think this is the best," Macchi said of the WNBA. "For me, it's a dream to play here."

Alana Beard and Chasity Melvin scored 16 points each for the Mystics (9-12), who have lost four of five overall after reaching .500 a week ago.

Leslie is impressed by Macchi's "ability to get to the ball and finish."

"She's done excellent in her last two games," Leslie said of Macchi, who held Indiana's Tamika Catchings to nine points on Monday. "She's taller and more active. She bothers their shots."

Los Angeles shot 51 percent while the Mystics shot 38 percent.

"Their offense was their best defense," Holdsclaw said. "We had some costly turnovers and we did not get inside like we wanted to."

Los Angeles made its first six shots and eight of its first nine to build a 16-point lead. Washington missed 10 of its first 13 shots.

In the second half, the Sparks (16-7) made seven of their first nine shots to lead 64-42 with 15:47 left. The Mystics didn't score a basket for six minutes.

* MERCURY 87, SILVER STARS 55: Plenette Pierson scored a season-high 20 points and host Phoenix snapped a five-game losing streak.

Penny Taylor had 16 points, and Diana Taurasi added 19 points, 6 rebounds and 4 assists for the Mercury (9-12).

Adrienne Goodson and Agnieszka Bibrzycka had 12 points each and LaToya Thomas had 10 for the Stars (6-16), who lost for the seventh time in eight games.

* SUN 78, SHOCK 68: Taj McWilliams-Franklin scored 17 points and Nykesha Sales added 16 as visiting Connecticut (12-11) broke a three-game losing streak while defending champion Detroit lost for the fourth time in five games. The Shock (10-12) is 4-7 at home.

Le'Coe Willingham added 12 points in a reserve role for Connecticut, which is 10-2 against the Eastern Conference.

Deanna Nolan led the Shock with 20 points.