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Cheeks Fired by Trail Blazers

Thursday, March 3, 2005; Page D04

Maurice Cheeks was fired yesterday as coach of the Trail Blazers, ending a tenure that had become increasingly divisive within the franchise. Kevin Pritchard, the club's director of player personnel, was named interim coach, but the club will soon begin looking for a permanent replacement. Speculation about Cheeks's job security began when the club failed to qualify for the playoffs last year. Portland (22-33) plunged in the standings this season and the coach's fate appeared to have been sealed following a verbal confrontation in January with swingman Darius Miles. Miles cursed Cheeks, directed racial epithets at him and told the coach he hoped he would be fired. Portland suspended Miles for two games, a punishment seen by many around the league as a slap on the wrist.

OF NOTE: Bulls F Tyson Chandler was fined $10,000 by the NBA, one day after making an obscene gesture toward an official. . . Hawks G Tyronn Lue was suspended for one game after punching Nuggets F Eduardo Najera. . . . The Nets waived C Elden Campbell, 36, who appeared in 10 games.

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