-- Alvin Gentry's roster of young, talented players just kept losing, and that cost him his job as coach of the Los Angeles Clippers.

Gentry, 48, was fired today with 24 games left in another disappointing season. Assistant Dennis Johnson replaced him.

The Clippers took a five-game losing streak and a 19-39 record into tonight's game against New Orleans. They are last in the Pacific Division and have blown 20 games when holding a fourth-quarter lead.

"These decisions are never easy, and this one is especially tough, because Alvin and I had a very good working relationship," team vice president Elgin Baylor said.

"But I reached the conclusion Sunday night that the players simply were not responding, and I believe a change is necessary at this time."

Johnson, 48, won three NBA titles with Seattle and Boston during his 14-year playing career. He was in his fourth season as a Clippers assistant.

Gentry had a record of 89-133 since becoming coach before the 2000-01 season. Prior to that, he was 73-72 as coach of the Detroit Pistons. He also coached the Miami Heat, in between 10 seasons as an assistant with three NBA teams. Gentry, 48, was the Clippers' fourth coach in six seasons. The team last made the playoffs in the 1996-97 season, under coach Bill Fitch.