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Two straight double-digit NBA victories apparently weren’t enough for the Detroit Pistons, who sacked coach Maurice Cheeks only just over half-way through the regular season.
Cheeks had been at the helm for just 50 games, presiding over a 21-29 start to the season. Despite the losing record, the Pistons entered Sunday just one half-game behind eighth-placed Charlotte for the final playoff berth in the lackluster Eastern Conference.
“Our record does not reflect our talent and we simply need a change,” said Pistons owner Tom Gores in a statement.
“We have not made the kind of progress that we should have over the first half of the season. This is a young team and we knew there would be growing pains, but we can be patient only as long as there is progress.”
The Pistons were just 6-10 after the first month of the season, then opened December with four straight victories.
That encouraging run was followed by a six-game losing streak after Christmas. With the Pistons trying to end a four-year playoff skid, big home wins over Brooklyn and Denver on Friday and Saturday weren’t enough to save Cheeks’s job.
“This was a difficult decision for the organization to make, but we needed to make a change,” Pistons president of basketball operations Joe Dumars said. “We have great respect for Maurice and appreciate his hard work.”
A replacement was not immediately named.
Cheeks had prior coaching stops in Portland (2001-05) and Philadelphia (2005-09). He has guided teams to the playoffs three times, but none won a post-season series.