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Phoenix Suns fire Terry Porter, promote Alvin Gentry

Suns dismiss Porter just four months into his first season with the club.

February 17, 2009|Associated Press

The Phoenix Suns fired Coach Terry Porter on Monday, just four months into his first season with the club and the sputtering team barely in playoff contention. Assistant Alvin Gentry was appointed interim coach.

Phoenix (28-23) lost five of eight going into the All-Star break and trails Utah by one game for the eighth and final playoff spot in the West.

Gentry promised a return to the fast-paced style that best uses the team's talent, particularly the skills of playmaker Steve Nash.

"We are who we are and I think we have to go back to trying to establish a breakneck pace like we've had in the past," Gentry said at a news conference announcing his promotion.

This marks the second time Porter has been fired as an NBA coach. He was let go by the Milwaukee Bucks in 2005 after two seasons.

"I hired Terry because I believed in him. He's got a ton of integrity and dignity and class, and he's got a great work ethic," General Manager Steve Kerr said. "I hired him because I believed he was the best man for the job."

But Kerr said he probably underestimated the difficulty of the transition from Mike D'Antoni's loose, high-speed style of play.

"I think we still can make this a very successful season," Kerr said. "This was a move I think we had to make in order to give our team the best chance for success."

Porter was in the first year of a three-year deal worth about $6 million to replace D'Antoni, who left after four highly successful seasons to coach the New York Knicks.

Suns suspend Richardson

The Suns have suspended Jason Richardson for one game without pay as the result of his arrest on allegations he was driving 55 mph above the limit with his unrestrained 3-year-old son in the car.

In a brief statement, the Suns said Richardson would miss tonight's home game against the Clippers "for conduct detrimental to the team."

A Scottsdale, Ariz., police officer clocked Richardson at 90 mph in a 35-mph zone and pulled him over.

Police said Richardson admitted to speeding and identified himself as a Suns player. The officer saw Richardson's son in the back seat of the car and that he was not in a child seat. Richardson was arrested and charged with reckless driving, excessive speeding and failure to use a child seat. He was released from jail after a few hours.

Richardson said he had taken his son to dinner and was on his way home.

"I just want to apologize to everybody -- my teammates, my family, especially my fiancee," he said. "It's a tough time for me. I've been questioned as a basketball player, questioned as a person, but my fatherhood in question is tough, because I try to be the best father I can be, and try to keep my kids out of harm's way."

All-Star game ratings rise

The All-Star game, featuring a Kobe Bryant-Shaquille O'Neal reunion, drew a preliminary rating on TNT that was up 6% from last year.

The game in Phoenix on Sunday night produced a 4.1 fast national rating and was watched by about 6.86 million viewers, the network said.

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