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Grizzlies send Fratello packing

The Memphis Grizzlies fired coach Mike Fratello yesterday after an NBA-worst 6-24 start, even though his team had been missing its best player for most of the season.

Fratello had a 95-83 record with the Grizzlies and had guided them to consecutive playoff appearances. Tony Barone Sr., the Grizzlies' director of player personnel, was selected to be the interim coach.

Fratello started this season without All-Star center Pau Gasol, who broke his foot in the World Championships and missed the first 22 games.

"Unfortunately, this season has been one of disarray starting this past summer," Fratello said in a statement.

Fratello was hired to replace Hubie Brown Dec. 2, 2004. He took the Grizzlies to the playoffs in 2005 and 2006, but was swept in the first round both times.

Jerry West, Grizzlies president of basketball operations, called Fratello a great coach and friend.

"We just felt it was time to make a change and move in a different direction," West said.

Mavericks 101, Suns 99 -- Dirk Nowitzki hit a 19-foot jumper with 1.3 seconds left and host Dallas rallied for their eighth straight victory.

Nowitzki took a pass in the right wing and made the shot over Shawn Marion. The Suns had one more chance after a timeout, but Amare Stoudemire's shot bounded off the front of the rim as time expired. That ended Phoenix's eight-game road winning streak, one short of the team record.

Nuggets 112, SuperSonics 98 -- Allen Iverson helped give Denver coach George Karl his 800th win, finishing with 44 points and 10 assists at Denver.

Iverson had his highest-scoring game since being acquired by Denver in a trade with Philadelphia Dec. 19. His season high is 46 against Chicago Nov. 24.

Spurs 106, Jazz 83 -- Tony Parker scored 22 points, Tim Duncan added 20 and San Antonio cruised to its 15th consecutive home victory over Utah.

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