fb-pixel Skip to main content

Derek Fisher had just finished a long playing career when Phil Jackson picked him to coach the New York Knicks. Just 1½ seasons later, Jackson decided he needed someone else.

Fisher was fired Monday, with his team having lost five straight and nine of 10 to fall well back in the Eastern Conference playoff race.

‘‘It’s time for us to make a change, turn this team around and move forward and get some wins and keep going down the road we had started here at the beginning of the year,’’ Jackson said at the team’s practice facility.

Associate head coach Kurt Rambis was promoted to interim head coach at least through the rest of the season. Rambis, like Fisher an ex-Laker player and a former assistant under Jackson, went 56-145 in two seasons as Minnesota’s coach.

Advertisement



The Knicks have fallen to 23-31, dropping Fisher’s overall record to 40-96. Jackson hired Fisher in June 2014, just weeks after Fisher was done playing.

‘‘It’s a huge transition from being a player to a coach at any point in time, let alone the season after you retire from playing. So it was a very difficult situation, regardless of where he coached,’’ Rambis said.

‘‘This is a historic franchise and this is a franchise and a fan base that’s used to winning and he started the process, and it won’t be finished and it may not be finished with the next two coaches that are coming in, but I think he was laying the foundation of doing things the right way and turning this franchise around.’’

But Fisher wasn’t winning lately, and though Jackson praised his work ethic, he had seen enough of the Knicks’ slow starts and faulty finishes.

Jackson also questioned whether Fisher took advantage of the experienced assistants Jackson hired to work with him, such as Rambis and Jim Cleamons. Jackson, who won an NBA-record 11 championships as a coach, also told Fisher he may not have mentored him as well as he could have.

Advertisement



‘‘There wasn’t really a consensus in our staff. We decided we need to have really good consensus in the working staff, interchanging of ideas and communication,’’ Jackson said.

The Knicks went 17-65 last season but upgraded their roster during the summer with the drafting of Kristaps Porzingis and the signing of veterans Arron Afflalo and Robin Lopez.

Fisher then got off to an embarrassing start this season during training camp. He was involved in a fight with Memphis Grizzlies forward and former teammate Matt Barnes when he was at the home of Barnes’s estranged wife in California.

‘‘No one’s happy about how that happened and what came out of that,’’ Jackson said. ‘‘That was embarrassing for us and for Derek, but that had nothing to do with what’s happened here today.’’

Raptors 103, Pistons 89 — Kyle Lowry scored 25 points and host Toronto Raptors went on an 11-2 run at the start of the fourth quarter to pull away for their 14th victory in 15 games.

Terrence Ross added 18 points for the Raptors, who recovered quickly after Detroit’s Andre Drummond made a shot from about 80 feet to end the third quarter. Toronto led 70-65 at the start of the fourth, and Lowry’s driving 3-point play set the tone for the period.

Drummond had 12 points and 13 rebounds for the Pistons.

Advertisement



Cavaliers 120, Kings 100 — LeBron James recorded his 40th career triple-double while Kyrie Irving matched his season high with 32 points and host Cleveland.

James scored 21 points to go along with 10 assists and 10 rebounds for his first triple-double of the season. The four-time MVP didn’t play the fourth quarter.

Irving was 13 of 21 from the field and tied his career high with 12 assists. J.R. Smith hit six 3-pointers and finished with 22 points.

Cleveland went ahead early in the game and steadily built its lead against the listless Kings, who have dropped eight of nine.

Rudy Gay and Omri Casspi led Sacramento with 16 points each.

Pacers 89, Lakers 87 — Indiana’s Paul George scored all 7 of his second-half points in the final 71 seconds and Monta Ellis made two free throws with 20.6 seconds left to seal the victory.

George finished with 21 points and nine rebounds.

Kobe Bryant scored 19 points in his final appearance in Indianapolis. He made three straight 3-pointers to give the Lakers an 82-79 lead with 2:30 left to play.

But he also missed two 3s in the final 20 seconds.

When he was pulled out of the game with 10.8 seconds to go, the Pacers’ crowd serenaded him with chants of ‘‘Ko-be, Ko-be.’’

But the Lakers (11-43) have still lost 12 of their last 15.

Clippers 98, 76ers 92 — J.J. Redick had 23 points, including the tying 3-pointer late in regulation, and Jamal Crawford also scored 23 points to lead shorthanded Los Angeles at Philadelphia.

Advertisement



The Clippers overcame their largest deficit in a victory this season, coming back from 19 points down to win their 19th game in the last 23 overall and 12th in the last 14 on the road.

Jerami Grant had 17 points to lead the 76ers, who were looking for their first winning streak of the season.

Trail Blazers 112, Grizzlies 106 — Damian Lillard scored 33 points and C.J. McCollum had 6 of his 21 points in overtime as Portland won in Memphis, the Grizzlies losing for the second straight game in OT..

McCollum scored the first three baskets of the overtime to create a buffer for the Trail Blazers.

Mike Conley led Memphis with 27 points, while Zach Randolph added 26 points.

The teams were tied at 102 at the end of regulation after Allen Crabbe was credited with a tip-in for Portland as the horn sounded — a shot actually tipped in by Memphis’s Jeff Green.

Marc Gasol scored 11 points before leaving late in the first quarter with a right foot injury. He did not return.

Hornets 108, Bulls 91 — Kemba Walker scored 30 points as host Charlotte led from the start.

Nicolas Batum had 19 points and 13 rebounds, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist scored 20 points and Spencer Hawes added 13 for the Hornets, who won their third straight over the Bulls at home.

Pau Gasol finished with 22 points and 10 rebounds for Chicago, which was missing three of its leading scorers to injuries: Derrick Rose, Jimmy Butler and Nikola Mirotic.

Advertisement



The Hornets led by 22 points in the first half and pulled ahead 78-53 with 3:42 left in the third quarter on two free throws by Kidd-Gilchrist.

Nets 105, Nuggets 104 — Joe Johnson’s 3-pointer at the buzzer lifted host Brooklyn.

Thaddeus Young scored 20 points, Markel Brown added a career-high 19 and Johnson finished with 12 points and eight assists for Brooklyn.

Pelicans 116, Timberwolves 102 — Anthony Davis and Jrue Holiday scored 27 points apiece as visiting New Orleans snapped a four-game losing streak.

Davis grabbed eight rebounds and Holiday had nine assists and five boards as well. Ryan Anderson chipped in 26 points and the Pelicans turned 12 turnovers into 21 points while turning the ball over just four times themselves.

Magic 117, Hawks 110 — Nikola Vucevic scored 25 of his 28 points after halftime, and visiting Orlando rallied from 20 points down to beat Atlanta in overtime as the Magic beat the Hawks for the second time in two nights.

Orlando, which trailed by 20 in the opening period and by 18 in the third, took its first lead at 96-94 on Mario Hezonja’s 3-pointer with 3:33 remaining in regulation.

Thunder 122, Suns 106 — Kevin Durant scored 25 of his 32 points in the second half and Oklahoma City pulled away in the final four minutes to hand host Phoenix its eighth consecutive loss.

The Suns, losers of 23 of their last 25 games, led by as many as six late in the third quarter. But Durant sank two 3-pointers in a 16-4 Oklahoma City run to finish the game.

Russell Westbrook added 29 points for the Thunder. Markieff Morris scored 23 points for Phoenix, and Archie Goodwin had 20.