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(Reuters) - The Houston Rockets fired head coach Kevin McHale on Wednesday after the team made a stumbling 4-7 start to the season, replacing him on an interim basis with his assistant J.B. Bickerstaff.
Though McHale led the Rockets to the Western Conference Finals last season and compiled a 193-130 record in four-plus seasons with the franchise, his position had become increasingly tenuous following blowout losses in their last four games.
Rockets general manager Daryl Morey announced that Bickerstaff would take over as interim coach when Houston host the Portland Trail Blazers later on Wednesday.
"The team was not responding to Kevin," Morey told reporters. "There is no time in the West," he added, referring to the highly competitive Western Conference.
The departure of McHale, 57, who guided the Rockets into the playoffs for three consecutive seasons, follows a players-only meeting that was held on Tuesday in a bid by the team to find a solution to their four-game losing streak.
"It is embarrassing. We hate to lose, but at the same time we have a long season and we can't think negative when we lose," center Dwight Howard told reporters.
"We have to try and find the positive in any situation. You keep thinking negative, then negative things will continue to happen to you. You got to stay positive and fight through it. All this stuff will build our character."
Reporting by Mark Lamport-Stokes in Los Angeles; Editing by Frank Pingue