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Rockers shut down Liberty

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CLEVELAND — Rushia Brown scored 18 points and Cleveland's defense clamped down on New York from the outset Thursday night, sending the Rockers to a 56-43 victory over the Liberty in Game 1 of the WNBA's Eastern Conference finals.

Susie McConnell Serio, who will retire when the season ends, added 10 points and made two key 3-pointers as Cleveland won its seventh straight home game before 11,686 fans at Gund Arena.

Game 2 of the best-of-three series is Sunday night at Madison Square Garden, where the Liberty have won 11 in a row.

Tari Phillips led the Liberty with 11 points.

COMETS 77, SPARKS 56: At Houston, Sheryl Swoopes scored 22 points and Cynthia Cooper added 21, and Houston used an early 17-0 run to take control against Los Angeles in Game 1 of the Western Conference finals.

Cooper, the two-time league MVP, had 15 points in the first half, and Swoopes, honored Thursday as this season's MVP, added 10 as the Comets took a 40-23 lead.

Mwadi Mabika led the Sparks with 21 points, all on 3-pointers.

The Sparks, with the best record in the WNBA this season at 28-4, beat the Comets all three times they played in the regular season.

Game 2 of the best-of-three series is Sunday in Los Angeles. A third game, if necessary, would be in Los Angeles on Monday.