Lakers hold off Suns, take 2-game West finals lead


Phoenix Suns forward Amare Stoudemire, center, is double-teamed by Los Angeles Lakers' Kobe Bryant, left, and Ron Artest during the second half in GamAP – Phoenix Suns forward Amare Stoudemire, center, is double-teamed by Los Angeles Lakers' Kobe Bryant, left, …By GREG BEACHAM

LOS ANGELES – Pau Gasol scored 14 of his 29 points in the fourth quarter, Kobe Bryant had 21 points and 13 assists, and the LosAngeles Lakers roared away in the final minutes for a 124-112 victory over the Phoenix Suns on Wednesday night to claim a 2-0 lead in theWestern Conference finals.

Ron Artest scored 18 points for the Lakers, who won their eighth straight playoff game and moved halfway to a tantalizing NBA finalsshowdown with the Boston Celtics, who lead Orlando 2-0 in the East.

The Lakers remained unbeaten at home in the postseason despite a much-improved effort from the Suns, who lost the opener by 21 points.

Phoenix tied it heading to the final period of Game 2, but Gasol andBryant flawlessly led the Lakers to another high-scoring victory.

Game 3 is Sunday night in Phoenix.

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