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Holdsclaw needed a fresh start

Associated Press

Chamique Holdsclaw is starting over with a new team, a new city and a new outlook nearly a year after leaving the Washington Mystics because of depression.

So far, things are going well with the Los Angeles Sparks for the three-time WNBA All-Star.

Holdsclaw is the league’s third-leading scorer, averaging 20.4 points, behind Houston’s Sheryl Swoopes and Diana Taurasi of Phoenix. Her best performance in the season’s first five games was 27 points and 10 rebounds in a victory against her former Washington teammates.

“I have this excitement,” she said. “I want to be in a position to win a championship.”

That wasn’t likely to happen any time soon in Washington, which made Holdsclaw the league’s No. 1 pick in 1999.

Coming out of Tennessee, she didn’t know anything but winning. The Lady Vols were three-time NCAA champions and she was a two-time national player of the year in Knoxville.

Holdsclaw’s arrival in the WNBA was heralded as a boost to a league in search of its next superstar. She was named rookie of the year, but the losing persisted and Holdsclaw lacked the strong supporting cast she’d had at Tennessee.

The Mystics’ only winning season was in 2002, when they lost to New York in the Eastern Conference finals.

“I asked to be traded,” said Holdsclaw, who became depressed and left the team in July.

She won’t talk about that time, which came after the death of her grandmother – who raised her. A tattoo visible above Holdsclaw’s right sock is of a cross and the word “grandma.”

Holdsclaw is thriving with the Sparks, in part because she no longer has to carry a team. That pressure falls on WNBA MVP Lisa Leslie, who is happy to have Holdsclaw on her side. They previously played together on the U.S. national team.

“I think she’s happier,” said Leslie. “I told her, ‘Hey, you’re here for a reason, and you’re surrounded by good people.’ “

The Sparks remind Holdsclaw of the championship teams she was on at Tennessee.

“It’s more of a team effort here. In Washington, I would have to handle the ball more,” she said. “From day one, Lisa is like, ‘I’m glad you’re here.’ We both want to win.”

Storm 83, Fever 77: At Seattle, Lauren Jackson had season highs with 24 points, 15 rebounds and five blocked shots to lead Seattle over Indiana.

Sue Bird scored 20 points Janell Burse had 15 and Betty Lennox added 13 for the Storm, who have won four straight.

Comets 59, Mercury 57: At Houston, Sheryl Swoopes’ layup with 25.7 seconds left gave the Comets a win over Phoenix.

Connecticut 80, San Antonio 69: At Uncasville, Conn., Margo Dydek scored 15 points and had a team-record nine blocks to lead Connecticut over San Antonio.

Monarchs 81, Sparks 53: At Sacramento, Nicole Powell’s career-high 22 points helped the Monarchs beat Los Angeles. The Sparks’ Lisa Leslie scored a career-low three points.

Lynx 73, Sting 67: At Minneapolis, Katie Smith scored 17 points and Svetlana Abrosimova added 15 to lead Minnesota past Charlotte.

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