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Jackson scores 24 points as Storm beat Sparks 81-66 to complete first-round sweep

Lauren Jackson had 24 points and nine rebounds as the Seattle Storm beat the Los Angeles Sparks 81-66 Saturday to complete a sweep of their Western Conference semifinals series.

Swin Cash scored 16 points and Sue Bird added 15 to lead Seattle, which was a league-best 28-6 in the regular season and won a postseason series for the first time since winning the WNBA finals in 2004.

The Storm will face Phoenix in the conference finals, which begin Thursday night in Seattle.

Tina Thompson led Los Angeles with 18 points, Noelle Quinn had 15 and DeLisha Milton-Jones cored 14.

Seattle shot 48 percent from the field (28 for 59), including 55 percent (12 for 22) on 3-pointers. The Sparks were just 38 percent (24 for 64).

The Storm took the lead for good just past midway through the second quarter and Jackson's 3 increased the advantage to 42-34 in the final minute of the first half.

Los Angeles rallied and pulled to 46-44 on Penicheiro's layup with 7:06 left in the third, but Seattle scored the next six points and pushed the lead back to eight on Camille Little's basket about 2 minutes later.

A 14-3 run increased the advantage to 71-54 with 7 minutes to go in the fourth. Quinn and Milton-Jones made consecutive 3s to pull Los Angeles within 11 with 4:40 left, but that was as close as the Sparks got.

Los Angeles completed a disappointing first season in the post-Lisa Leslie era. The Sparks lost Candace Parker 10 games in and were 3-11 before splitting their last 20 games to take the No. 4 seed in the West.

The Storm trailed by five points early in the second quarter, before an 8-2 run capped by Jackson's layup gave them a 26-25 lead with under 6½ minutes remaining in the first half.

After Los Angeles' Ticha Penicheiro hit a jumper to tie the score at 28-all midway through the period, Jackson made two free throws and Cash had a 3 to give the Storm the lead for good.