Lakers stretch lead


LOS ANGELES, May 20- Pau Gasol scored 14 of his 29 points in the fourth quarter Wednesday as the Los Angeles Lakers poured it on in the closing stages to beat Phoenix 124-112 in the NBA Western Conference finals.
The victory gave the Lakers a 2-0 lead in the best-of-seven series, from which the winners advance to the NBA finals.

Kobe Bryant had 21 points and 13 assists for the reigning champion Lakers, who had 18 points from Ron Artest.

The Lakers remained unbeaten at home in the postseason, although the Suns managed to make it closer in this one.

The Suns knotted the score at 90-90 going into the fourth quarter, but Gasol and Bryant keyed a crushing Lakers response.

Phoenix host game three on Sunday, when the Suns will be trying to find a way to slow down a Lakers offense that hit better than 57 percent of their shots for the second straight game.

Lakers fans were already looking ahead to a possible championship showdown with the Celtics, chanting "We Want Boston" as the game came to a close.

Boston hold a 2-0 lead over Orlando in the Eastern Conference finals.

Lakers fans lustily booed the Suns’ Amare Stoudemire, who had called Laker Lamar Odom’s 19-point, 19-rebound game-one effort "a lucky game."

Stoudemire finished with 18 points and six rebounds, while Odom turned in another superb performance with 17 points and 11 rebeounds.

Jason Richardson scored 27 points for Phoenix, and Steve Nash had 11 points and 15 assists.

Grant Hill scored 14 of his 23 points in the third quarter as the Suns erased a 14-point deficit.

But Los Angeles had regained an 11-point lead late in the final period.

Bryant set up Gasol for two difficult shots in the final minutes, with Gasol scoring and drawing a foul both times.

Bryant, who scored 40 points in game one, was a playmaker on Wednesday, as he recorded a career postseason high for assists.