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© St. Petersburg Times, published January 8, 2001

Celts' Pitino says he'll resign today

With his resignation all but official, Boston Celtics coach Rick Pitino sounded relieved. The team is expected to formally announce Pitino's decision to leave today.

"I'm gonna step down," Pitino said Sunday in a phone conversation with the Boston Globe. "I think it's the best move.

From his multimillion-dollar mansion north of Miami Beach, Pitino contemplated a future that does not involve being president and coach of the Celtics.

"I had one of the best days I've had in a long time," Pitino said. "I just sat with my wife and talked. ... I turned to my wife and said, 'Let's go for a walk.' "

He and his wife, Joanne, walked around their neighborhood and watched television.

"Both of us in our basketball lives have never gone through what we've gone through with the Celtics," he said. "We've been very lucky that every stop we made, we've been able to win in grand fashion. But that's not been the case in Boston." reported Pitino reached a settlement with owner Paul Gaston on the remainder of a 10-year, $50-million contract they signed in 1997.

Pitino went one way and his players another after a 112-86 loss to Miami at American Airlines Arena Saturday night.

As the target of intense heckling at the FleetCenter and speculation about his future off the court, Pitino was often singled out this season.

He also set himself apart from the team, accepting the blame for the Celtics' poor performances.

After losing to Philadelphia Nov. 20, he told his players he was leaving at the end of the season. He later made his remarks conditional on the team's play and said he would suggest a coaching change if it did not show "marked improvement" by mid-January.

While his departure comes earlier than widely anticipated, he remained true to his word. The Celtics have gone 10-14 since Pitino made his comments and rarely hold opponents below 40 percent shooting.

In the months leading up to his resignation, Pitino also repeatedly said the millions he might leave behind were irrelevant. The coach takes his leave without any buyouts or secret compensation being supplied.

"He'll leave the balance on the table," Celtics chief financial officer Richard Pond said. "He will be paid for a very short period of time because of the salary cycle, but it will not be any significant sum. There is no buyout. There is no severance package."

The Celtics have lost 11 of their past 14 games, allowing 100 or more points in nine of those. Pitino is 102-146 with the Celtics, who at 12-22 appear to be headed for an unprecedented eighth consecutive losing season.

RAPTORS 94, SONICS 92: Alvin Williams scored the winning basket with 0.1 seconds left as host Toronto overcame a late injury to Vince Carter.

Carter, who had a game-high 23 points, collided with teammate Morris Peterson trying to prevent Rashard Lewis' dunk with 1:30 left and had to be helped off the floor with a bruised right calf. He is day to day.

KNICKS 103, WIZARDS 87: Matching a record that stood for more than 46 years, host New York held its opponent under 100 points for the 28th straight time, yet its coach cut the team no slack.

"It was awful. I'm being serious, the defense was awful," Jeff Van Gundy said. "It's a nice achievement, but one thing you can't do when you win is overlook your slippage, and there has been huge slippage with us defensively."

The Knicks, playing with their regular starting lineup for the first time since Nov. 17, tied the mark set by the Fort Wayne Pistons to start the 1954-55 season when the NBA had just introduced the 24-second shot clock.

GRIZZLIES 120, BUCKS 117: Shareef Abdur-Rahim scored 38 for host Vancouver, which scored a season high and one point off its franchise record.

Damon Jones scored on a layup with 25.3 seconds left to give the Grizzlies a 119-117 advantage. Milwaukee called timeout and got the ball to Glenn Robinson, who missed with 8.1 seconds left under pressure from Abdur-Rahim.

Bryant Reeves was fouled, made one of his two free throws, then Ray Allen missed a three-pointer at the buzzer for the Bucks.

CLIPPERS 118, LAKERS 95: Lamar Odom scored a season-high 29 points and the Clippers beat their crosstown rival for the first time in nearly four years.

The Clippers outshot and outrebounded the defending league champions to end a 16-game losing streak against their fellow Staples Center occupants. They beat the Lakers for the first time since March14, 1997, at the Forum.

NUGGETS 94, HORNETS 87: Antonio McDyess scored 33, including four straight field goals down the stretch for host Denver. McDyess also had 16 rebounds for his eighth straight double double. The Nuggets outscored the Hornets 14-7 over the final four minutes.

TIMBERWOLVES 108, SUNS 88: Visiting Minnesota spoiled Penny Hardaway's return to the lineup. Anthony Peeler had a season-high 28 points and career-high 10 rebounds. Suns forward Shawn Marion injured his right knee with 8:11 left and had to be helped to the locker room. Marion is scheduled for an MRI today.

CAVALIERS: Rookie center Chris Mihm will miss at least two games, including tonight against New Jersey, with a bone bruise in his right knee. Also, forward Etdrick Bohannon signed a 10-day contract.

MAGIC: Guard James "Hollywood" Robinson, who has averaged 7.7 points in 375 games with the Blazers, Timberwolves and Clippers, signed a 10-day contract. Last season he played in Greece, averaging 19 points.

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