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Bird's 2 free throws lift Storm past Sparks, 65-63

Sue Bird hit two free throws with 1.6 seconds left in the game to snap a tie, and the Seattle Storm hung on to beat the Los Angeles Sparks on Sunday night, 65-63.

Bird finished with 12 points and Lauren Jackson and Tanisha Wright led Seattle (17-12) with 14 points apiece.

Candace Parker scored 19 points to lead Los Angeles (12-17) and made it a double-double with 14 rebounds. Techia Penicheiro also had a double-double with 15 points and 10 rebounds.

Wright, trying to shoot through traffic with the clock winding down, had her shot blocked. But the loose ball came out to Bird at the left of the lane, and she was fouled by Kristi Toliver to earn a trip to the line. Bird swished both shots to clinch Seattle's fourth straight victory.

"Those free throws for any player at the end of the game can be tough. It's just you and the basket," Bird said. "Luckily, the blocked shot ended up in my hands. They (the Sparks) came at me so hard, I just pump-faked, and took the hit.

"I'll take a win any way I can get it," she added.

The Sparks had a last-second shot to tie the game, but Tina Thompson's try from the left of the lane bounced off the rim at the buzzer.

Sparks coach Joe Bryant was upset about the call that put Bird on the line.

"I'm not going to say what I think because I don't want to get fined," Bryant said. "I thought we played great defense. It's just sad that it had to end that way because usually, you let the players make the decisions in games. So that was probably the saddest part about it."

Seattle has beaten the Sparks in nine of their last 10 meetings.

"There's tons of things we can do better," Wright said of Tuesday's rematch in Los Angeles. "Everyone is playing for their playoff lives. They have too many good players — you can't afford to relax."

The defending champion Storm reduced their magic number to one to qualify for the WNBA playoffs. Los Angeles fell two games behind San Antonio for the fourth and final playoff spot in the Western Conference with five games left.