Mon, Jan 24, 2005 - Page 20 News List

Lenny Wilkens leaves NY


Glen Davis, right, of LSU, shoots the ball while being defended by Shagari Alleyne of Kentucky during their game at Rupp Arena in Lexington, Kentucky on Saturday.


Lenny Wilkens resigned as coach of the New York Knicks on Saturday, likely ending his Hall of Fame career after barely a year with his hometown team.

The 67-year-old Wilkens had two years and US$10 million left on his contract. The resignation, the first time Wilkens has stepped down or been fired during a season, followed a lengthy meeting with Isiah Thomas after the Knicks' last-second home loss to the Houston Rockets on Friday.

Wilkens is both the winningest and losingest coach in NBA history, going 1,332-1,155 in 32 seasons with Seattle, Portland, Cleveland, Atlanta, Toronto and New York. He won his lone NBA title with the SuperSonics in 1979 and coached the US to a gold medal in the 1996 Atlanta Olympics.

Last season, Wilkens led the Knicks to their first playoff berth since 2001, going 23-19 after taking over the team following Don Chaney's firing. The Knicks were then swept by New Jersey in the first round.

A nine-time NBA All-Star in his 15-year playing career, Wilkens and John Wooden are the Hall of Fame members elected as both a player and coach. And in 1997, Wilkens -- a player-coach for four seasons in Seattle and Portland -- was the only man selected as both one of the 50 greatest players in NBA history and one of the 10 greatest coaches.

Wilkens, who starred at Boys High School in Brooklyn and was an All-America guard at Providence College, got his record 939th victory in early 1995 with Atlanta, passing former Boston coach Red Auerbach.

The Knicks have three games left on their four-game homestand -- Milwaukee, Phoenix and Cleveland -- before hitting the road for a six-game road trip that includes stops in Detroit, Sacramento and Phoenix. They will then return home to play Shaquille O'Neal and the Eastern Conference-leading Miami Heat. New York's 92-91 loss to Houston on Scott Padgett's off-balance jumper at the buzzer gave the Knicks nine losses in their last 10 games. The slide has dropped the Knicks into third place in the weak Atlantic Division with a record of 17-22.

Hedo Turkoglu scored 22 points, Dwight Howard added 21 and the short-handed Orlando Magic rallied to beat the Philadelphia 76ers 115-111 on Saturday.

The Magic, missing Grant Hill due to his bruised right wrist, trailed by six with 2:02 left to play after Allen Iverson's jumper.

Iverson finished with 38 points, his most since sitting out a game two weeks ago with an ankle sprain. Samuel Dalembert tied his career high with 24 points, and added a season-best 16 rebounds.

Jameer Nelson sparked the comeback with two steals, cashed in for three free throws, cutting the deficit to a point. Nelson had seven steals, one short of the franchise record, to go with his 12 points.

The Magic won despite tying a season worst with 12 missed free throws (35-for-47) and committing 22 turnovers -- but only one in the final 14 1/2 minutes.

Bulls 100, Pistons 89

In Auburn Hills, Michigan, Kirk Hinrich had 24 points and nine assists as Detroit lost to Chicago at home for the second time in less than a month.

The Bulls hadn't won twice in Detroit in one season since 1995-1996. Eddy Curry added 15 for the Bulls before fouling out and Antonio Davis had 14.

Richard Hamilton led all scorers with 32, including 16 in the first quarter, but only scored seven in the second half. Hamilton was a game-time decision with a bruised right thigh.

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