Week 5
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December 5, 2006 -- With his unmatched ability to find the open teammate, Steve Nash has made more people smile in Phoenix than the dentist.

Whether it's setting up Shawn Marion for an alley-oop or delivering the perfect entry pass on the block to Amare Stoudemire, Nash always delivers right on time.

Phoenix was the trendy pick this season to reach The Finals. Nash was back at the helm of the league's most explosive offense after becoming one of just 11 players to win the MVP more than once.

And the lineup was expected to get an added boost from Stoudemire, who missed most of the 2005-06 campaign after knee surgery.

But then the Suns got off to a slow start, winning just once in their first six outings, and Nash was sidelined with back spasms.

Was this the season where defenses had finally caught up with Phoenix?

Line of the Week
Kobe Bryant (Lakers)
November 30 vs. Jazz
52 points, 4 rebounds, 3 assists,
19-26 FG, 12-15 FT

Not at all.

Nash is healthy again, Amare is playing like Amare of old and Phoenix has reclaimed its spot among the game's elite.

The Suns have won six games in a row to move three games above .500. Nash is leading the NBA in assists as usual and he's also averaging a career-best 20.5 points per game.

At this pace, Nash has a chance to be the first player in the league to average 20 points and 10 assists since Tim Hardaway accomplished the feat for the Warriors in 1993.

Here are the player rankings for the week of Nov. 28 through Dec. 4.

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    Race to the MVP - Overall Player Rankings
    1. Carlos Boozer, Utah
    PPG RPG APG SPG BPG FG% FT%
    22.7 12.2 3.3 0.6 0.5 589 .699
  • Last Week's Rank - 2 | All-Star Game: Fill out a ballot daily
    I would have been laughed out of the office before the season began for moving Boozer into the top spot but after five weeks, it is obvious his game is no joke.

  • 2. Dirk Nowitzki, Dallas
    PPG RPG APG SPG BPG FG% FT%
    24.2 9.7 2.9 0.6 0.9 .491 .921
  • Last Week's Rank - 3 | All-Star Game: Fill out a ballot daily
    Nowitzki had to leave Wednesday's game with blurred vision but one thing remains crystal clear: He was the driving force behind Dallas' 12-game winning streak.

  • 3. Dwight Howard, Orlando
    PPG RPG APG SPG BPG FG% FT%
    17.2 13.5 1.6 0.5 2.0 .600 .654
  • Last Week's Rank - 6 | All-Star Game: Fill out a ballot daily
    Howard has posted nine straight double-doubles. He was recently named Eastern Conference Player of the Month for November and has led Orlando to a conference-best 14-5 record.

  • 4. Tim Duncan, San Antonio
    PPG RPG APG SPG BPG FG% FT%
    21.9 11 3.6 0.6 1.8 .548 .631
  • Last Week's Rank - 4 | All-Star Game: Fill out a ballot daily
    The Big Fundamental became just the third Spur to top the 15,000-point plateau last week. San Antonio is cruising along with a 13-5 record.

  • 5. Carmelo Anthony, Denver
    PPG RPG APG SPG BPG FG% FT%
    32.2 5.2 4.3 1.9 0.3 .524 .831
  • Last Week's Rank - 8 | All-Star Game: Fill out a ballot daily
    The Nuggets are 8-2 over their last 10 thanks to the offensive exploits of the reigning Western Conference Player of the Week.

  • 6. Yao Ming, Houston
    PPG RPG APG SPG BPG FG% FT%
    25.6 9.8 1.9 0.5 1.8 .528 .849
  • Last Week's Rank - 5 | All-Star Game: Fill out a ballot daily
    Yao has scored at least 20 in all but two games for the 11-5 Rockets. Each week the gap between Yao and the rest of the centers widens.

  • 7. LeBron James, Cleveland
    PPG RPG APG SPG BPG FG% FT%
    27.4 6.7 6.7 1.6 0.9 .464 .705
  • Last Week's Rank - 1 | All-Star Game: Fill out a ballot daily
    The Cavaliers are only playing .500 ball over the past 10 games, allowing them to be leapfrogged by the red-hot Pistons. Sure LBJ's overall numbers are still great, but he needed to do more to hold on to the top spot in the player rankings.

  • 8. Kobe Bryant, L.A. Lakers
    PPG RPG APG SPG BPG FG% FT%
    26.1 4.6 4.7 1.3 0.3 .487 .838
  • Last Week's Rank - 10 | All-Star Game: Fill out a ballot daily
    Just when KB24 looked like he was returning to all-world form, he left Monday's game with a moderate sprain of the right ankle. Hopefully he won't miss much time.

  • 9. Steve Nash, Phoenix
    PPG RPG APG SPG BPG FG% FT%
    20.5 2.6 10.8 0.7 0.1 .511 .902
  • Last Week's Rank - 11 | All-Star Game: Fill out a ballot daily
    The two-time NBA Most Valuable Player is doing his thing (making everyone better) and so are the Suns - winners of six straight.

  • 10. Dwyane Wade, Miami
    PPG RPG APG SPG BPG FG% FT%
    27.3 4.8 8.0 1.3 1.0 .451 .807
  • Last Week's Rank - 7 | All-Star Game: Fill out a ballot
    With the one-man Race to the MVP committee in the house Thursday, Wade had an off night against the Pistons, going 5-for-23 from the floor, including missing the game-winner with two seconds left.
  • Close But No Cigar (season averages)
    11. Allen Iverson (PHI): 31.6 PPG, 7.3 APG, 2.3 SPG
    12. Kevin Garnett (MIN): 21.1 PPG, 11.9 RPG, 3.6 APG
    13. Chris Bosh (TOR): 21.1 PPG, 12.2 RPG, 1.1 BPG
    14. Chauncey Billups (DET): 17.8 PPG, 2.6 RPG, 8.5 APG
    15. Lamar Odom (LAL): 19.0 PPG, 8.8 RPG, 4.8 APG
    16. Zach Randolph (POR): 25.8 PPG, 10.2 RPG, 1.6 APG
    17. Gilbert Arenas (WAS): 26.1 PPG, 3.9 RPG, 6.6 APG
    18. Jason Kidd (NJN): 12.6 PPG, 8.3 RPG, 9.4 APG
    19. Joe Johnson (ATL): 28.3 PPG, 5.3 RPG, 4.1 APG
    20. Michael Redd (MIL): 29.7 PPG, 3.8 RPG, 2.1 APG

    Running the Floor

    Curry
    Knicks big man Eddy Curry has posted a career-best seven straight games with 20 or more points.
    Congratulations to Heat guard Dwyane Wade for becoming just the fifth pro basketball player to be named Sports Illustrated's Sportsman of the Year in the 54 times in which they've handed out the award.
    Utah's Jerry Sloan needs one victory to become the fifth coach to reach 1,000 wins. Golden State's Don Nelson needs one more victory to become the second coach to reach the 1,200-win mark.