Halftime: Lakers 65, Suns 53

PHOENIX — Ron Artest dismissed talk before Game 6 tonight about being a victory away from his first NBA Finals appearance. He didn’t wish to even consider the closeness of the achievement. Then he went out and showed he had a firm grasp on the situation. He scored 17 points on 7-for-11 shooting in the first half and helped the Lakers to a double-digit lead. Pau Gasol didn’t make a basket until there were 2 minutes, 5 seconds left in the half. Artest more than made up for Gasol’s lack of production early in the game.