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Lakers share the ball, enjoy win at Phoenix

All five starters score in double figures in 102-96 win over the Suns.

March 13, 2010|By Broderick Turner

Reporting from Phoenix — They played as a team, sharing the basketball, finding the open man, no one taking a shot that he wasn't comfortable with.

As a result, all five Lakers starters scored in double figures in their impressive 102-96 victory over the Phoenix Suns on Friday night at US Airways Center.

Perhaps Pau Gasol, Ron Artest and Derek Fisher benefited the most from the ball being passed around.

All three of them scored 15 points apiece.

And all three of them were efficient.

Fisher got his 15 on five-for-nine shooting, including three for six on three-pointers.

Gasol got his 15 points on seven-for-11 shooting.

Artest got his 15 points on six-for-13 shooting.

"With the zone that they played, it forced us to pass the ball four, five, six, seven times, inside out, back around," Fisher said about the zone defense the Suns frequently employed. "That's what we're supposed to do in man-to-man or zone."

Artest was three for eight from three-point range.

His three-pointer in the fourth helped the Lakers hold back the Suns when they made their run.

"I know what happened out there, but I really don't," Artest said. "[That's] from a standpoint of just really thinking about the team game and not as much thinking about myself."

Gasol also had eight rebounds, three assists, four blocked shots and one hard foul that knocked Louis Amundson to the court hard.

The play so upset Suns Coach Alvin Gentry that he ran onto the court and yelled at the officials, "That was a flagrant foul."

None was called, but Gentry, who had to be restrained, earned two technical fouls and was ejected from the game for his outburst.

"The bottom line is we played the right way and tonight we ended up with a ‘W' [win]," Gasol said. "We finished with [all the starters in] double figures. Most of the time it's a good sign because it gets the guys involved."

Artest looked a bit more aggressive, especially in the second quarter.

He made all three of his shots, which included both of his three-pointers.

When the Lakers finished the second quarter with a 20-6 run that turned a seven-point deficit into a seven-point half-time lead, Artest had eight of the points.

He made two three-pointers and scored after getting an offensive rebound.

"I think I'm trying to find my shot within the system, that's it," Artest said. "I don't want to force it. I've got to take shots when it's not convenient for me to take shots."

Because of the play of Gasol, Fisher and Artest, Kobe Bryant didn't have to do all the heavy lifting.

Bryant was content to orchestrate things, to run the show rather than be the show.

"Derek shot the ball really well," Bryant said. "He adjusted his shot a little bit. Ron made a couple of big shots. Pau gave a hard foul tonight, which is what we like to see from him."

The Lakers broke a four-game road losing streak because they played as one, as a group.

Every starter had at least one assists, led by Bryant's eight and Fisher's four.

Going forward, Fisher said, the Lakers must continue to play as a team.

"It's definitely something that we should hold on to and not just forget about the fact that we had lost four road games in a row," Fisher said. "And the one game that we finally win, it was played a certain way. So we should definitely hold on to it and not lose sight of it as we go into Oakland [Monday] and Sacramento [Tuesday]."

broderick.turner@latimes.com

twitter.com/BA_Turner

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