Sunday , May , 07 , 2006 C.Y. Ellis

Nash named MVP for second straight year

Phoenix, AZ (Sports Network) – Phoenix Suns point guard Steve Nash was named the NBA’s Most Valuable Player for the second straight season, becoming the first point guard since Los Angeles Lakers star Magic Johnson to take home the hardware in consecutive campaigns.

Nash named MVP for second straight year

Johnson accomplished the feat following the 1988-1989 and 1989-90 seasons. Nash and San Antonio Spurs forward Tim Duncan, who took home the award in 2002 and 2003, have won four out of the last five MVP honors.

Nash won the award with 57 first-place votes for 924 total points. Cleveland Cavaliers guard LeBron James finished in second with 16-first place votes and a total of 688 points.

Nash barely beat out Miami Heat center Shaquille O’Neal in the fourth-closest MVP vote last season.

A year after leading Phoenix to a franchise record-tying 62 wins and averaging a league-leading 11.5 assists, Nash dazzled voters with not just his statistics, but his ability to carry a team that played all but three regular- season games without injured star forward Amare Stoudemire.

The 32-year-old Nash led the Suns to 54 wins and their first repeat division title with just Shawn Marion and Leandro Barbosa back for a full season. Nash’s unselfish nature and great court vision allowed role players Boris Diaw, Raja Bell and Tim Thomas to shine.

Nash also recorded career highs in scoring (18.8 ppg), rebounding (4.2 rpg), field-goal percentage (.512) and free-throw percentage (NBA-best .921). The All-Star also dished out a league-leading 10.5 assists per game and drained 43.9 percent of his three-point attempts.

Dirk Nowitzki of the Dallas Mavericks finished third in voting with 14-first place votes and 544 points while Los Angeles Lakers star Kobe Bryant had 22- first place votes and 483 total points.

The Suns advanced to the second round of the playoffs on Saturday, beating the Los Angeles Lakers, 121-90, in Game 7 of their Western Conference quarterfinal series. The second-seeded Suns blanketed LA’s Bryant and became the eighth team in NBA history to overcome a 3-1 series deficit to advance, and will face the No. 6 seed Los Angeles Clippers in the conference semifinals, starting Monday in Phoenix.