LEMOND: Mohammed close to NBA Finals

Former UK basketball star Nazr Mohammed can taste it. Mohammed and his San Antonio Spurs are close to clinching the Western Conference finals and earning a trip to the NBA championship series for the first time in Nazr's career.

Former UK basketball star Nazr Mohammed can taste it.

Mohammed and his San Antonio Spurs are close to clinching the Western Conference finals and earning a trip to the NBA championship series for the first time in Nazr's career.

"There isn't any more pressure now than any other playoff game," Mohammed said.

At the time of this writing, the Spurs were leading the Phoenix Suns three games to one in the Western Conference Finals. San Antonio had won the first three games of the series, and were looking to "sweep" the series until Phoenix won game four 111-106.

"They made shots," Mohammed said. "They played like a team desperate. They pushed the ball. We just didn't get it done the way we wanted to."

It's been a long ride for Big Nazr to get to within a game of reaching the NBA championship series. After Kentucky won the 1998 national championship, Mohammed left UK after his junior season. He was the 29th and final pick of the first round in the 1998 NBA draft by the Utah Jazz. The Jazz then traded Mohammed to the Philadelphia 76ers where he played for 2 1/2 seasons. He then spent most of three seasons with the Atlanta Hawks before being traded to the New York Knicks, where Knicks President Isiah Thomas called Mohammed, "the final piece to the puzzle".

But after the all-star break, the Knicks traded Mohammed to the Spurs where Nazr has become a piece of the "Spurs puzzle" in helping lead San Antonio to a near sweep of the team who had the best record in the NBA, the Phoenix Suns.

"Honestly, if you asked me at the beginning of the series if we could sweep them (Suns), I would have said, 'no chance'," Mohammed said. "They are a phenomenal team. They can score and throw a lot of things at you."

Coming off the loss in game four, Mohammed said, "We all hate to lose. We've just got to see what the coach tells us. They'll (the coaches) will watch the film and tell us exactly what we need to do, and just go out there and try to do better next game."

Another former Kentucky Wildcat, Walter McCarty, plays for the Suns, but he's only played sparingly in the series.


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