Week 12
By Maurice Brooks
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SECAUCUS, N.J., Jan. 23, 2007 -- Chest bumps, high-fives and fist pounds for everyone: The Nuggets cruised to a 115-98 victory over the Grizzlies on Monday.

And Allen Iverson and Carmelo Anthony didn't have any problems performing the simplest of unwritten basketball rules - sharing the ball. For one game, anyway.

The Nuggets couldn't have handpicked a better opponent for Game 1 of the "Mile-High Combo." The Grizzlies came into the contest with a 10-31 record --the worst in the league.

Denver led by 20 points after the first period, leaving Iverson and Anthony plenty of time to work on their chemistry. Anthony's outside game was rusty, but who needs to hit jumpers when he can get all of the dunks and layups he wants?

Line of the Week
Kobe Bryant (Lakers)
January 22 vs. Warriors
42 points, 8 rebounds
11-for-22 FG, 4-for-7 3 FG

With Anthony serving a 15-game, 36-day suspension for throwing a punch against the Knicks, the Denver front office was busy shaking up the roster. A.I. was brought to town via a trade from Philly to fill the offensive void left by Anthony and to help bring the Nuggets one step closer to a title.

So far, so good. The first and third leading scorers in the league gave a small preview of the havoc they can cause on the court. Anthony fired in 28 points and Iverson dropped in 23 to go with seven assists.

"We just wanted to show the whole world we could play together,'' Anthony said. "We know there's a lot of doubt about that.''

Don't be fooled by this one performance. It will probably take the high-scoring duo a few weeks to see if this experiment will work.

For their entire careers, Iverson and Anthony have both been the top scoring options on their clubs. What happens now if the Nuggets have the ball, down two and the clock is ticking down? Who takes the last shot?

The other unanswered question is: How far does Denver have to advance in the playoffs for this pairing to be considered a success. First round? Conference Finals? NBA Finals?

Judging by the way the Nuggets played in his absence, it is a safe bet that this is still 'Melo's team. Even with Iverson, who is averaging 27.4 points, 7.7 assists and 2.7 rebounds in his 15 games in Denver, in the lineup, the Nuggets only won seven times.

Here are the player rankings for the season through Jan. 22.

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    Race to the MVP - Overall Player Rankings
    1. Steve Nash, Phoenix
    PPG RPG APG SPG BPG FG% FT%
    19.3 3.2 11.5 0.8 0.1 .531 .886
  • Last Week's Rank - 1
    Nash was named the Western Conference Player of the Week for the second time this season after averaging 15.5 points, 13.8 assists and 2.3 rebounds in helping Phoenix extend its winning streak to 13 games.

  • 2. Gilbert Arenas, Washington
    PPG RPG APG SPG BPG FG% FT%
    29.7 4.5 6.3 2.0 0.1 .431 .839
  • Last Week's Rank - 2
    How consistent has Agent Zero been? He has been "held" under 20 points in just six out of the Wizards' 40 games. Washington has won four games in a row.

  • 3. Dirk Nowitzki, Dallas
    PPG RPG APG SPG BPG FG% FT%
    24.9 9.5 3.2 0.7 0.7 .500 .897
  • Last Week's Rank - 3
    It seems like there is no stopping Dirk and the Mavericks who, with three more victories, would have their unthinkable third win streak of at least 10 games.

  • 4. Kobe Bryant, L.A. Lakers
    PPG RPG APG SPG BPG FG% FT%
    28.3 5.4 5.5 1.2 0.4 .471 .858
  • Last Week's Rank - 4
    Happy Anniversary KB24. Exactly one year after torching the Raptors for 81 points, Bryant celebrated Monday by scoring 42 in the Lakers' five-point win against the Warriors.

  • 5. LeBron James, Cleveland
    PPG RPG APG SPG BPG FG% FT%
    26.8 6.7 6.1 1.6 0.7 .476 .700
  • Last Week's Rank - 6
    It was an up and down week for the King. On Friday, he notched his first triple-double of the season, posting 30 points, 10 boards and 10 dimes in a loss in Denver. Monday night, he had just 18 points and four rebounds in a loss at Orlando.

  • 6. Tim Duncan, San Antonio
    PPG RPG APG SPG BPG FG% FT%
    19.8 10.5 3.4 0.7 2.2 .537 .630
  • Last Week's Rank - 8
    The Big Fundamental is so dominant on the offensive end that what he does defensively sometimes gets overlooked. He has blocked four shots in four straight games.

  • 7. Carlos Boozer, Utah
    PPG RPG APG SPG BPG FG% FT%
    22.1 11.8 3.2 1.0 0.3 .562 .699
  • Last Week's Rank - 7
    Just when it looked like it was time to jump off the bandwagon, Boozer and his crew have righted the ship, winning four straight to take a five-game lead in the Northwest. He pulled down a season-best 19 rebounds, to go with 23 points, Friday.

  • 8. Dwyane Wade, Miami
    PPG RPG APG SPG BPG FG% FT%
    28.2 4.8 7.9 2.0 1.2 .481 .811
  • Last Week's Rank - 9
    After injuring his ankle in Sunday's loss to the Mavericks, D-Wade took Monday's game agains the Knicks off so that the sprain can have some time to heal.

  • 9. Kevin Garnett, Minnesota
    PPG RPG APG SPG BPG FG% FT%
    22.1 12.7 4.3 1.2 2.0 .476 .823
  • Last Week's Rank - 5
    This wasn't a good week for the Big Ticket. The Timberwolves have dropped four straight and he was suspended one game for throwing a punch at Detroit's Antonio McDyess.

  • 10. Jason Kidd, New Jersey
    PPG RPG APG SPG BPG FG% FT%
    14.5 8.3 9.1 1.8 0.3 .430 .812
  • Last Week's Rank - 14
    Monday night, Kidd tallied 18 points, 10 rebounds and 10 assists for his eighth triple-double of the season. The versatile point guard now has 83 for his career.
  • Close But No Cigar (season averages)
    11. Dwight Howard (ORL): 17.1 PPG, 12.5 RPG, 1.9 BPG
    12. Shawn Marion (PHX): 18.8 PPG, 9.9 RPG, 2.1 SPG
    13. Caron Butler (WAS): 21.0 PPG, 8.1 RPG, 4.1 APG
    14. Josh Howard (DAL): 19.8 PPG, 7.2 RPG, 2.0 APG
    15. Tracy McGrady (HOU): 22.8 PPG, 5.5 RPG, 6.4 APG
    16. Allen Iverson (DEN): 29.3 PPG, 7.5 APG, 2.1 SPG
    17. Chris Bosh (TOR): 21.6 PPG, 11.1 RPG, 1.3 BPG
    18. Zach Randolph (POR): 23.6 PPG, 10.2 RPG, 1.9 APG
    19. Baron Davis (GSW): 20.8 PPG, 4.6 RPG, 8.5 APG
    20. Jermaine O'Neal (IND): 19.4 PPG, 10.4 RPG, 3.0 BPG

    Running the Floor

    Marbury
    With 18 wins through the first 43 games this season, it appears a safe bet that the Knicks will top the 23-victory mark from last year. All news out of New York isn' t good as floor leader Stephon Marbury left Monday's game against Miami because of knee pain. He had six points and two assists in 16 minutes but did not play in the second half.
    The Nets, who are already struggling to get to .500, got a bad break when they found out Richard Jefferson is going to be sidelined at least six weeks after undergoing surgery on his right ankle Monday. R.J. is New Jersey's third leading scorer, averaging 16 points per contest.
    Rockets' center Yao Ming, who is sidelined with a fractured tibia, is expected to miss the 2007 All-Star Game in Las Vegas. As of Jan. 4, Yao was the leading vote getter with over 1,700,000 votes.