Updated: March 5, 2007, 8:42 PM ET

The best of each division

My pick for MVP is the big man in Dallas. Here's my picks for each of the NBA's six divisions . . .

ATLANTIC
• Raptors forward Chris Bosh -- The most complete player in the entire division. His versatility is extraordinary, a new wave power forward who can create offense and block shots, too. Simply put, a winner and a leader. This is a guy people forget, but he's every bit as talented as the other bigger name players from the 2003 draft.

Runners-up: Knicks guard Jamal Crawford and Nets guard Jason Kidd.

CENTRAL
• Pistons guard Chauncey Billups -- I don't think people appreciate just how good he is. Extremely talented, he takes and makes most of the big shots. He offers great poise, great leadership and a durability matched by very few. Look at his numbers (17.7 ppg, 7.5 apg) and he's very solid.

I take him over LeBron -- as great as LBJ is, the game is about the business of winning. Everybody talks about the loss of Ben Wallace, but the Pistons are still doing it the most in the East, and Billups is a big reason why.

Runners-up: Cavs forward LeBron James and Bulls guard Ben Gordon.

SOUTHEAST
• Heat guard Dwyane Wade -- For a team which has had so many guys play horrifically, his impact is not completely quantifiable. He brings it every night. So long as there's no risk of longterm injury, I don't think he should have his shoulder surgery until the offseason. He should try and play because he's probably got one or two more chances to win it all with Shaq.

Runners-up: Gilbert Arenas, Magic center Dwight Howard.

PACIFIC
Suns guard Steve Nash -- Even if he was only good enough to be your 12th man, you would want him on your team because of his attitude. Continues to play phenomenal basketball, a coach on the floor who would make anybody better.

As for his recent shoulder problems, when you get to be 33, when you get injured that's always a concern. He's played as well now as he had been -- in the second half against the Lakers on Sunday, he looked particularly good with his playmaking.

Runners-up: Lakers guard Kobe Bryant, Suns forward Shawn Marion.

NORTHWEST
• Jazz guard Deron Williams -- As a point guard, he's been incredible -- very durable and consistent in his second year. His 20 points and six assists helped Utah to a 108-94 win over the Hornets on Sunday. He has a huge impact on the game without taking away from Mehmet Okur and Carlos Boozer.

Runners-up: Kevin Garnett, Okur and Boozer.

SOUTHWEST
• Mavericks forward Dirk Nowitzki -- Continues to reinvent himself as a player. He's having a bigger impact in the interior and not shooting the 3 as much. When he took his team to San Antonio last year and won that seventh game of the Western Conference semifinals on the road, that was the big convincer for me about just how good he is.

Runners-up: Tim Duncan and Tracy McGrady.

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Kobe And Ali
Ali
Barry Gossage/NBAE via Getty Images
Kobe Bryant talks with legendary boxer Muhammad Ali and his wife Lonnie Ali before the Suns played the Lakers. Ali, who lives in the Phoenix area, received a standing O when introduced. More applause came when he left late in the third quarter.


Dime Mailbag: Pay Russell
In Friday's Daily Dime there was a picture of Dirk and LeBron that had me in it as well. At the beginning of the NBA season I made a bet with my friend that I would be in the Dime before him. I guess I was in the right place at the right time to have a picture of me posted on the Dime.

However my friend thinks the bet should not count because it was a picture I was in and not a comment of mine that was on the Dime. It would be great of you guys that write up the Dime could post this comment on the next Dime so I can make my friend shut up and pay me.
-- Russell (Dallas)



Looking On Bright Side
Lamar Odom

You have to look hard for silver linings in the land of the purple and gold these days.

I might have one, though:

If the Lakers needed any more convincing that they were smart to keep Andrew Bynum off limits in the Jason Kidd trade talks, they've got it now.

Giving up an agile, imposing 19-year-old who's progressing at a promising rate and also happens to be a 7-footer -- in a swap for a point guard who's still churning out the triple-doubles but who's also soon to be 34 -- is a move that screams Win Now.

Yet with Lamar Odom sidelined indefinitely with a shoulder injury and Luke Walton still out as well, Kidd wouldn't have been able to help the Lakers win anything significant now even if he is "an assassin like Kobe," as one L.A. insider puts it.

Complete Marc Stein blog


Records At A Glance



Suns Now 7-1 Since Nash Returned

Suns beat the Lakers


Adding Up To Wilt
Redd and Gordon
Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images
The output of Michael Redd (52 points) and Ben Gordon (48) in Sunday's 126-121 Bulls win over the Bucks equaled the single-game record set by Wilt Chamberlain.



Extreme Behavior
Ben Gordon

Sunday's Best
Bulls guard Ben Gordon: Duels with Michael Redd (52 points) and finishes with a career-high 48 points. Both guys shot 18-for-32 from the field. Gordon's previous high was 41 points on Jan. 2 against Phoenix.

Vince Carter

Sunday's Worst:
Nets guard Vince Carter: A lost weekend for the Nets and Carter, dropping back-to-backs to the Celtics and 76ers. Carter made 4-of-20 shots in the loss to Philly, his nine points marking only his second single-digit scoring night of the season.

Quote of the Day
"If you call somebody an idiot, you got to give a technical for that one. And there was something before that last word was used."
-- Wizards guard Gilbert Arenas, who capitalized on a personal foul and technical foul called against Warriors coach Don Nelson with one-tenth of a second left. He made three free throws to give Washington a 107-106 win.

See how all 132 who played stacked up
Playoff matchups if season ended now

-- Andrew Ayres



Chasing History
LV

The Mavericks have won 50 of their last 55 games after starting the season 0-4. They are only the second team in NBA history to win 50 of 55 games within one season: the 1995-96 Bulls also won 50 of 55 games at one point. (By the way, no team in the history of either Major League Baseball or the NHL has ever won 50-of-55 in one season, either.)

• Elias Sports Bureau | More from Elias




Dirk, That's Who
Dirk Nowitzki

A year ago at this time I was making a case that Tony Parker deserved serious consideration for the MVP award, which may have been a bit of a stretch, but not a huge one at the time.

Fast forward to today, Sunday, March 4, and there is no reason to look for a worthy alternative, as I did a year ago.

As of now, Dirk Nowitzki is the NBA's Most Valuable Player, hands down. Steve Nash was his equal a month ago, but Nowitzki has separated himself from his old best buddy as the Dallas Mavericks have strung together a team-record 15 consecutive wins. Nowitzki has scored 30 or more points in 12 of the past 27 games, shooting a shade under 52 percent over that span, and the Mavs have gone 16-0 when he has reached 30. Nowitzki also has already eclipsed last year's total of 35 double-doubles, notching 36 and barely missing a 37th as he had 24 points, nine rebounds and seven assists Saturday night vs. Orlando.

Complete Chris Sheridan blog




Out To Launch
LV

March 5, 1996
Dallas sets an NBA record for three-point field goal attempts (49) in a game during a 127-117 win over visiting New Jersey. George McCloud makes seven threes in an NBA record-tying 20 attempts. Michael Adams of Denver also attempted 20 three-point field goals against the Los Angeles Clippers on April 12, 1991.

-- Peter D. Newmann

 

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