Stotts Fired As Coach Of Milwaukee Bucks

Wednesday, March 14th 2007, 5:04 pm

By: News On 6

MILWAUKEE (AP) _ Terry Stotts was fired Wednesday as coach of the Milwaukee Bucks, who are struggling this season after injuries to key players.

An interim coach was not announced for Thursday night's against San Antonio.

``Terry has done the best he could in a difficult situation, especially with all of our injuries,'' general manager Larry Harris said. ``I felt it was in the best interest of our organization to make the decision now and move forward, rather than wait until the end of the regular season.''

The news came as a surprise to players.

``This is the first I heard about it. We had practice, and Terry ran practice,'' said Lynn Greer, a free agent acquired in the offseason. ``I had a great time playing under him. He knew his Xs and Os. He had a tough time with the injuries, but I haven't got a bad thing to say about him.''

The Bucks have dealt with a spate of injuries, including the loss of top scorer Michael Redd for 20 games as the team went 3-17 without him. Milwaukee is 23-41, last in the Central Division.

The Bucks were expected to be much improved with Redd's return, but may have hit their lowest point Monday after losing by 15 at home to the Raptors.

Andrew Bogut, the top pick in the 2005 draft, made an obscene gesture toward the fans as he left the court after being ejected for committing a flagrant foul against Toronto's Chris Bosh in the final minute. The league fined Bogut $25,000 earlier Wednesday.

The timing of Stotts' firing also might coincide with the status of Bucks assistant Larry Krystkowiak, whose name has been linked to the open coaching job at the University of Utah. Krystkowiak declined comment on the Utah job through the team.

Stotts was hired as the team's ninth coach in June 2005 after Terry Porter was let go. Stotts was a favorite of owner Herb Kohl. The U.S. senator got to know the 13-year NBA veteran coach while Stotts was an assistant under then-Bucks coach George Karl.

Stotts and Harris made good on their promise to return to the playoffs in 2005-06, but the Bucks stumbled badly down the stretch, finishing 40-42 with the eighth seed in the Eastern Conference and losing in five games to Detroit.

This season, the Bucks lost forward Bobby Simmons, the team's second-leading scorer last year, with foot and ankle injuries that required two operations before their first game. Fellow starter Charlie Villanueva missed significant time with a torn ligament in his elbow and shoulder tendinitis.

Redd hurt a tendon in his left knee on a meaningless dunk at the end of a loss to Cleveland on Jan. 5 and missed 20 games. Starting backcourt mate Mo Williams sprained his shoulder in the next game, causing him to miss nine games as well.

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