Johnson, Sun edge short-handed Sparks

LOS ANGELES (AP) -- The Los Angeles Sparks made no excuses for a
surprising loss at the hands of the Connecticut Sun.

Shannon Johnson's go-ahead driving layup with 18.9 seconds left
helped the Sun win 76-73 Sunday night.

Los Angeles, which leads the WNBA with a 16-5 record, played
without its top two scorers: Lisa Leslie and Tamecka Dixon.

"Everyone needs to come together and pick up the pieces of the
game when they are not here," said Sparks rookie Shaquala
Williams, who scored a season-high 10 points -- all in the first
half. "We were in a position to win, but we could not finish it."

After Johnson's basket, Sparks forward Mwadi Mabika shot an
airball, which teammate Rhonda Mapp grabbed. But Mapp threw the
ball into the backcourt for a turnover with 2.6 seconds left.

Taj McWilliams-Franklin made two free throws for the Sun with
0.6 seconds to play for the final points. Mabika threw up a 75-foot
shot as time expired.

Nykesha Sales led Connecticut (11-11) with 17 points, Katie
Douglas scored 12, and Johnson, McWilliams-Franklin and Wendy
Palmer added 10 apiece.

Mabika scored a game-high 23 for Los Angeles, while DeLish
Milton had 19. Nikki Teasley scored all of her 18 points in the
second half.

"We were up five points but our killer instinct was not
there," Milton said. "I don't think it was there the entire game.
The little things that broke us down were missing the shots and
missing defensive rebounds. We let them get wide-open jumpers and
take the game."

Leslie, the reigning league MVP, missed her third consecutive
game after hurting her right knee in the All-Star game last
weekend. Dixon was sidelined after straining her left knee in
Friday's 79-74 loss to Houston.

Teasley's 3-pointer with 1:08 left gave the Sparks a 73-70 lead,
but Williams-Franklin's 5-foot jumper with 43.4 seconds remaining
cut the deficit to 73-72.

"I thought they had tired legs a little bit," Connecticut
coach Mike Thibault said. "They thought we were coming down to set
up, but we went right to the basket."

The Sun led 39-36 at halftime. Los Angeles took its first lead
at 57-54 with 10:23 to play on Teasley's 3-pointer.