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Published: Wednesday, 7/23/2008

Sparks vs. Shock winds up in brawl

ASSOCIATED PRESS
Shock assistant coach Rick Mahorn confronts Lisa Leslie.
Coaches defended Mahorn, saying he was breaking up the fight.
Shock assistant coach Rick Mahorn confronts Lisa Leslie. Coaches defended Mahorn, saying he was breaking up the fight.
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AUBURN HILLS, Mich. - Candace Parker wanted to focus on all of the good parts of the Los Angeles Sparks' win over the Detroit Shock.

Unfortunately, it will be the final five seconds that everyone else is going to remember.

Parker was one of three players ejected along with Detroit assistant coach Rick Mahorn after an ugly scuffle with 4.6 seconds left in Los Angeles' 84-81 victory.

"To be honest, I don't recall exactly what happened," said Parker, who led Los Angeles with 21 points. "I'll have to watch the tape."

The skirmish started moments after Parker and Detroit's Cheryl Ford had to be separated after Ford fouled Parker.

On the next possession, Parker got tangled up with Detroit's Plenette Pierson and fell to the ground. As she was getting up, Pierson intentionally ran into her, setting off the melee.

Parker threw a punch at Pierson before being tackled by Detroit's Deanna Nolan. Players and coaches from both teams joined in, and Mahorn knocked Lisa Leslie to the court.

"I was trying to protect the whole game, the integrity of the game," he said. "The WNBA is very special to me because I have four daughters. I don't even raise my hand to them, and I would never push a woman. This game, I love this game too much."

Mahorn was also involved in the 2004 Pistons-Pacers brawl while working as a Detroit broadcaster, going into the crowd to try to pull Ron Artest away from fans.

"Rick Mahorn is known as a peacemaker, from even the brawl we had here with Indiana," Detroit coach Bill Laimbeer said. "He went out there to get people off the pile, and to get people to stop the confrontation. That's who he is, that's what he does."

Leslie did not talk to the media, but Los Angeles coach Michael Cooper also said he felt Mahorn was trying to stop the fight.

"I think Rick was trying to play peacemaker, but he's just too big," Cooper said. "I was only trying to grab my players, and I didn't see exactly what happened, but he apparently gently tried to push Lisa away."

DeLisha Milton-Jones shoved and punched Mahorn after the incident with Leslie, and was ejected, along with Mahorn, Parker and Pierson. Nolan and Shannon Bobbitt received technicals.

"That was unfortunate, but things like that happen in basketball sometimes," Milton-Jones said. "The league is going to have to decide what kind of action to take."

Ford sprained her right knee while trying to restrain Pierson, and left the floor in a wheelchair. Her status is unknown.

"I'm glad that none of our players got hurt, and I hope that Cheryl is OK," Cooper said.

The brawl marred a key victory for Los Angeles, which came in having lost four of five.

"This was a game we needed badly, and we won it," said Milton-Jones, who scored 19 points.

Detroit rallied from 21 down but missed a chance to win the game in the final two minutes. The Shock has now lost two straight at home after starting the season 10-0 at the Palace.

"You're going to be down after losing two games in a row at home, especially emotional, last-minute games, and then throw Ford's injury on top of that," Laimbeer said. "I'm sure we'll get a suspension or two here and there. We can't get the [Olympic] break fast enough."

Leslie finished with 10 points for Los Angeles, which swept the two-game season series. Olympic teammate Katie Smith led the Shock with 20 points.

"I haven't seen something like that, I don't think, in my whole career," Smith said.



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