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Tuesday, November 18, 2003
Assistant coach Davis takes over

Associated Press

SALT LAKE CITY -- Doc Rivers was fired as coach of the Orlando Magic late Monday night after the team got off to the worst start in its 15-year history.

Rivers told The Associated Press early Tuesday that Magic general manager John Gabriel informed him of the decision in a meeting at the team hotel after Orlando lost to Utah 90-88 on Monday night.

Doc Rivers' Coaching Record
Year Team Win Loss Pct.
1999-00 Orlando 41 41 .500
2000-01 Orlando 43 39 .524
2001-02 Orlando 44 38 .537
2002-03 Orlando 42 40 .512
2003-04 Orlando 1 10 .091
TOTALS 171 168 .504

The Magic, an NBA-worst 1-10 this season, have lost 10 consecutive games.

"It is part of sports," Rivers said. "I thought I had a good run here. Things just didn't work out in the end. Maybe the players need to hear another voice."

The Magic reached the playoffs in the last three of Rivers' four seasons in Orlando, but each ended in a first-round exit. Combined with this season's dismal start, Rivers knew a change was likely.

"I have no ax to grind," Rivers said. "I thought the management and team were both great. I couldn't ask for anything more."

In addition to Rivers' dismissal, the team also announced early Tuesday that assistant coach Johnny Davis will take over for Rivers, a move first reported by the Orlando Sentinel on its Web site. Assistant coach Dave Wohl was also let go.

"We work in a bottom-line business," Magic chief operating officer John Weisbrod said in a statement. "After a 1-10 start, it is our responsibility to do everything possible to create the best opportunity for success."

Davis, in his fifth season with the Magic, was previously an assistant with New Jersey from 1997-99. He's also been an assistant with Atlanta, the Los Angeles Clippers and Portland.

Davis went 22-60 and missed the playoffs as the head coach of the Philadelphia 76ers in the 1996-97 season.

"Johnny is an experienced leader," Weisbrod said. "He is a solid teacher and prides himself on developing talent. We want to give him the opportunity to provide the new voice and direction that our team needs."

Davis, 48, played 10 years in the NBA, averaging 13.9 points and 4.5 assists per game with Portland, Indiana, Atlanta and Cleveland. Rivers had been the longest-tenured coach working in the Eastern Conference, entering his fifth season with the Magic. At 42, Rivers plans to coach again.

"I'll go home, walk in the house and reintroduce myself to my family," Rivers said. "I'll see what I want to do. There'll be some options."

Rivers' stay in Orlando began with promise. He was named NBA Coach of the Year in his rookie campaign of 1999-2000, becoming the first coach in league history to win the award without leading his team to the playoffs.

Rivers, who played 13 seasons for the Hawks, Clippers, Knicks and Spurs before retiring in 1996 to become a television analyst for Turner Sports, was 171-168 in his four-plus seasons with Orlando and ranks second on the franchise's career victories list.

"I love coaching. I enjoy coaching," Rivers said. "I consider it in my blood, but I think it might be time for a break."

Despite having the reigning NBA scoring champion in Tracy McGrady, the Magic, the NBA's third-youngest team, have struggled this season. Orlando's offense entered play Monday as the 22nd-lowest scoring and 25th-worst shooting unit in the league, and averaged only 88.3 points per game.