Raptors fire Mitchell after rout by Nuggets

Wed Dec 3, 2008 7:53pm EST
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TORONTO (Reuters) - The Toronto Raptors fired head coach Sam Mitchell Wednesday, a day after the team suffered one of their biggest defeats.

Assistant Jay Triano, formerly in charge of Canada's national team, was appointed interim coach and, according to Raptors President and General Manager Bryan Colangelo, is expected to remain in the role through the end of the season.

The decision came less than 24 hours after the Raptors were routed 132-93 by the Denver Nuggets, their fifth worst defeat.

It was also the fourth loss in six games for the Raptors (8-9), who have slipped to eighth in the Eastern Conference.

"It's safe to say after the debacle we all witnessed last night, a 39-point loss, not to mention several other instances ... you come to a point where you realize some of the things you want to see out there aren't taking place," Colangelo told reporters during a conference call.

"It was difficult decision ... at this point being 8-9 we felt it was time to move forward with a coaching change."

In four-plus seasons in Toronto, Mitchell posted a record of 156-189, earning NBA coach of the year in 2006-07 after guiding the Raptors to the Atlantic Division title and back into the playoffs for the first time in five years.

Mitchell was immediately rewarded with a four-year, $12 million contract but has paid the price after an inconsistent start to the current campaign.


<p>Toronto Raptors head coach Sam Mitchell reacts to an NBA official's call during the second half of their NBA game against the Detroit Pistons in Auburn Hills, Michigan January 15, 2008. REUTERS/Rebecca Cook</p>