Sunday, December 09, 2001

Van Gundy stuns Knicks with resignation as coach

NBA roundup

The Associated Press

Jeff Van Gundy
(AP photo)
| ZOOM |
        PURCHASE, N.Y. — Jeff Van Gundy resigned unexpectedly as head coach of the New York Knicks on Saturday, saying he had lost his focus and had thought about quitting since the summer.

        The stunning decision came as the Knicks were playing their best basketball of the season, winning five of six games to get above .500 after a poor start.

        Van Gundy was in his seventh season with New York, the longest tenure by a Knicks head coach since Red Holtzman led the team for 10 seasons beginning in 1968.

        “In my heart, I knew what was right, but it was still a difficult decision to come to,” Van Gundy said at the Knicks' practice facility. “I didn't feel my focus was at its best.”

        Van Gundy said he spoke with team president Scott Layden several times since the summer to express how he was feeling and that he decided Wednesday — the day after a 14-point victory at Milwaukee — that he was going to quit.

        He's the first NBA coach to resign or be fired this season.

        “I'm going to step back and exhale for the first time in 13 years,” Van Gundy said. “When I told my daughter today, she said: "Does this mean you get to have lunch with me?' So that's cool.”

        Van Gundy told the players of his decision at their morning shootaround.

        “We were all shocked. I didn't see this coming at all,” guard Mark Jackson said.
        Knicks 101, Pacers 99

        NEW YORK — With Van Gundy undoubtedly watching from the edge of his easy chair, the Knicks successfully began a new era without him.

        Assistant coach Don Chaney replaced Van Gundy and New York survived a rally led by notorious Knick-killer Reggie Miller to escape with their sixth victory in seven games.
        Bulls 87, Celtics 84

        CHICAGO — Ron Mercer hit a late go-ahead jumper as Chicago rallied from a 16-point second-half deficit to end the Celtics' six-game winning streak.
        Wizards 102, Mavericks 95

        DALLAS — Michael Jordan returned to the air for most of his points on another poor shooting night and scored 15 of his 21 points in the fourth quarter, lifting Washington.

        Jordan's only baskets through three quarters came on two dunks and a vintage layup. He missed his first 12 jumpers and his first two free throws.
        Cavaliers 109, Nuggets 99

        CLEVELAND — Lamond Murray scored a season-high 33 points and Wes Person had 24 to lead Cleveland, which has won six of its last seven home games.
        Jazz 111, Warriors 101

        SALT LAKE CITY — Karl Malone had a season-high 39 points, including 14 in the fourth quarter when he hit 6-of-7 from the floor, to lead Utah, which has won three games in a row.
        Timberwolves 107, Rockets 97

        MINNEAPOLIS — Kevin Garnett scored 21 points to lead Minnesota and extend the Rockets' losing streak to nine games.
        Hawks 107, Magic 104

        ATLANTA — Jason Terry made two free throws with 17.7 seconds left and Atlanta snapped a three-game losing streak, overcoming 40 points by Orlando's Tracy McGrady.
        Bucks 95, Nets 79

        MILWAUKEE — Sam Cassell scored a season-high 28 points and Ray Allen had 21 for Milwaukee, which held the Nets to their lowest point total this season.
        Grizzlies 92, 76ers 83

        MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Pau Gasol scored 24 points and Jason Williams added 23 for Memphis.


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