Suns headed to NBA finals -- May 26, 2013

SAN ANTONIO -- Sparked by their all-star "Big Three," Marcin Gortat, Markieff Morris and Aaron Brooks, the Phoenix Suns are returning to the NBA finals after a 20-year hiatus.

"I just want to send a shout-out to the fans back in Phoenix," said Morris, who emerged this season as the inside force that Phoenix had lacked for two decades. "I owe it all to you. I might not have pushed myself as hard if you hadn't written 'lesser twin' on my car with shoe polish every three days."

"The fat lady has sung, and I know because she's my cousin and I accompanied her on my flugel horn," added Suns star reserve Garret "The Silo" Siler.

The slim backup center also celebrated receiving news that he was the first player in league history to win both the sixth-man and most-improved awards in the same year, along with a certificate of outstanding achievement presented at halftime by Jenny Craig.

With their 123-99 victory over San Antonio, Phoenix took the Western Conference series 4-1.

Veteran guard Steve Nash played only sparingly in the closeout game after being fitted with a prosthetic left leg following a controversial "no-call" in Game 2.

In that incident, Spurs swingman Manu Ginobili brought a sword onto the floor and cut off Nash's leg during the waning seconds of the Suns 125-95 victory.

Although no foul was called on the play, the league office reviewed video of the incident and fined Ginobili $500 for having a metal object that was not secured within his uniform as required by NBA rules.

Phoenix's only series loss came in Game 3. The Suns played that game without Nash, who was undergoing surgery, and without Gortat and defensive stopper Zabian Dowdell, who were hit with one-game suspensions by the league.

Dowdell was suspended for leaving the bench area to put a tourniquet on Nash's leg; Gortat for borrowing a cell phone from a fan to call 911, a violation of the league rule against electronic communication by players during a game.

Nash laughed off the injury, saying, "It's just a flesh wound."

He also praised the play of his protege, Brooks, who dished 27 assists in the closeout game.

"Brooksie played great," said Nash. "I'll have absolutely no concern about turning the team over to him when I retire 11 or 12 years from now."

Phoenix is expected to face a tougher challenge against the Eastern Conference champions, the Philadelphia 76ers, who rocketed from the league's worst record to the finals on the stellar play of their resurgent do-it-all shooting guard, Vince Carter.

Carter, a former Sun, said it will feel like he's coming home when he returns to the Valley of the Sun for Game 3.

"It was emotionally wrenching to leave Phoenix, with all the love and support I felt from the fans while I was there," said Carter, his eyes misting. "But that's life in the NBA, ya know?"

Phoenix player/coach Grant Hill said making it to the finals is a life-changing event for him.

"Screw Sprite," he said, as he walked through the arena tunnel after the game. "I just signed a long-term endorsement deal with Sierra Mist. They use real sugar, not that phony corn sweetener crap."

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