Player of the Week Dirk Nowitzki – The Mavericks' superstar was spectacular, leading his club to four wins, including one in San Antonio, by averaging 28 points a game. The big week extended Dallas' winning streak to nine after opening with four straight losses. Nowitzki has led the Mavs in scoring in all but one of their games this season.
Team of the Week Denver Nuggets – The Nuggets won all four games on the week and averaged 118 points. Carmelo Anthony's terrific play continued, and he currently leads the NBA in scoring at 31.1 points per game. With J.R. Smith giving Denver the three-point shooting it desperately needed, Anthony has spent more time on the block posting up, and opponents haven't been able to slow down the Nuggets' attack.
Game of the Week Thursday: Utah Jazz at Los Angeles Lakers – Two division leaders meet in a rematch of last week's thriller in Salt Lake City won by the Jazz. Andrei Kirilenko has returned to the lineup after his ankle injury, giving Utah's frontline more depth and shot blocking. For the Lakers, Kobe Bryant is starting to round into form – he had 40 last week in a win over the Clippers.
Yes, that's right, the Sixers stand atop the Atlantic Division (with the Celtics and Knicks) despite a 5-8 record, epitomizing the Eastern Conference's pathetic record so far this year. In fact, only three East teams are above .500 through the first month of the season – Orlando (.714), Cleveland (.643) and Detroit (.643) – and as a result they are also the only three Eastern clubs to crack this week's top 10.
The West, on the other hand, is loaded with powerful teams, many of whom are beginning to make their moves up the standings. Dallas has won nine in a row, Phoenix has taken six of its last seven, and Denver is on a five-game winning streak. Still, it is the Jazz who hang onto the top spot for the third straight week.
Here's a look at this week's rankings (records and statistics are through Nov. 26):
1.Utah Jazz (12-2, Last ranking: 1) – Deron Williams got himself in terrific shape over the summer, and it shows. He's running the show for Utah.
2.San Antonio Spurs (11-3, Last ranking: 2) – Tim Duncan passed 15,000 points for his career with another big game in Seattle on Sunday night. He's averaging 22.8 this season.
18.Atlanta Hawks (5-6, Last ranking: 17) – Tyronn Lue is playing very well at the point for the Hawks, who could hang around for a while in the East playoff race.
19.Miami Heat (5-8, Last ranking: 16) – Take away Dwyane Wade and this roster looks awful. Fortunately for the Heat, Wade is there and carrying the load.
20.New Jersey Nets (5-8, Last ranking: 12) – The Nets are one of the league's worst three-point shooting teams at 31.8 percent.
21.Philadelphia 76ers (5-8, Last ranking: 19) – Same old story for Allen Iverson: He's scoring 30.5 points per game, but shooting only 41 percent. Tough to win when your best player misses most of his shots.
22.Boston Celtics (5-8, Last ranking: 24) – The Celtics have won four of six, so they're playing well. They'll need to keep it up with 10 road games in December.
23.Portland Trail Blazers (6-9, Last ranking: 23) – The Blazers have shown flashes, but they're still young and have a long way to go.
24.Chicago Bulls (4-9, Last ranking: 21) – The Western swing was a disaster, but the Bulls' schedule gets much kinder from here on out. And in the East, all you have to be is mediocre and you're not going to fall too far behind.
25.Milwaukee Bucks (4-9, Last ranking: 27) – The Bucks have lost four of five. Not exactly the kind of momentum they need heading out West for four tough games.
Although Raiders coach Jon Gruden technically resigned, the resignation undoubtedly came under threat of termination, if he didn’t choose to leave voluntarily. Unresolved when he abruptly walked away was the balance of his reported 10-year, $100 million contract. Via Vic Tafur of TheAthletic.com, owner Mark Davis said Wednesday that a settlement has been reached. Gruden [more]
Dan Wetzel, Pete Thamel and SI's Pat Forde pick the 5 biggest games of the week plus a lock as the yearly Race for the Case contest rolls on. Will Michigan cover the spread on the road? Can Florida cover 14 points against the top-ranked Bulldogs? Create a BetMGM account and place your first bet risk-free up to $1,000. If your bet loses, you get your bet amount, up to $1,000, added back to your account in free bets. Must be 21+ in AZ, CO, IN, IA, MI, NJ, PA, TN, VA, WV, WY only. Terms apply. Go to BetMGM.com/YAHOO to get started or use promo code YAHOO when making your first deposit.
Tucker Davidson was in the lobby of a Courtyard Marriott near the Gwinnett Stripers' ballpark in Georgia, eating a salad from The Cheesecake Factory and watching the Atlanta Braves play their World Series opener, talking with Triple-A strength coach Paul Howey and Paul Davis, the roving pitching coordinator. “We were just kind of sitting there, and Charlie went down, and we kind of looked around, like: This is why we’re here,” Davidson said.