Report: Celtics' Pitino to resign Monday
Updated: Monday January 08, 2001 8:29 AM
MIAMI (AP) -- Rick Pitino needed a day off after the latest loss by the Boston Celtics. His hiatus might not end after 24 hours.
Pitino, frustrated by his team's lackluster play, decided to leave the Celtics for at least one day after they lost their fifth consecutive game, 112-86, to the Miami Heat on Saturday night.
While the Celtics planned to fly home Saturday night, Pitino said he would stay in Miami with his wife to do some "soul searching."
"No, I have not resigned, but I am going to take a day off [Sunday]," Pitino said. "It has been a while since I remember having a day off. My wife is coming down, and we are going to spend the day together, and I'm going to do a little thinking."
The Providence Journal-Bulletin, citing an unidentified source close to Pitino, reported that the coach had reached a settlement deal with the team and would announce his resignation Monday. Assistant Jim O'Brien would take over the team, the paper said.
The Celtics did not immediately return a call seeking comment.
"It's safe to say that I will have a decision after the day off," Pitino said.
Pitino is the second coach to take a leave of absence from his team this season. Philadelphia coach Larry Brown left the team last month for two days before returning.
Pitino has said since late last season, his third consecutive losing season, that 2000-01 would be his last in Boston if he doesn't see improvement.
The Celtics have lost 11 of their past 14 and have allowed 100 or more points in nine of those games, with eight of them defeats. Pitino is 102-146 in 3 1/2 seasons in Boston.
"What I'm looking for is defensive improvement, but you can see by the way they scored tonight that it's not there," Pitino said. "The effort is there, but the defensive improvement isn't."
Earlier this week, Pitino revealed that he put his Boston townhouse up for sale, although he said his decision to sell had nothing to do with the Celtics. He said his family didn't need a big house with his son, Richard, leaving for college next year.
Heat coach Pat Riley said he hopes Pitino sticks around.
"If he decides to leave, there is not a coach in the NBA who cares more and puts more into the game than he does," Riley said. "He developed a first-class organization up there. The players get everything they want and need.
"If, in fact, it does happen, I think it is a shame, because he is a credit to the game."
Tim Hardaway had 24 points and 10 assists as the Heat had their biggest offensive output of the season.
The Heat, who have won six consecutive home games and seven of eight overall, have topped 100 points five times in 35 games. Their previous high came in a 110-102 overtime win over Detroit on Dec. 30.
Antoine Walker scored 26 points and Paul Pierce added 20 for the Celtics, who have lost 11 of their past 14.
The Celtics sounded as if they might have seen their coach for the last time.
"I don't know what his decision is going to be. All I know is that I feel that I didn't fight for him tonight," Pierce said.
"It's always in the back of your mind. It's there when you get to the arena -- what's going on with the team. At times, it's difficult to stay focused."
Hardaway finished just two points shy of his season-high despite playing just 29 minutes. He finished 9-of-14 from the floor, including 4-of-6 from 3-point range.
"I was aggressive, enjoying the game and playing hard," Hardaway said. "I've been doing that for the past seven or eight games, but I haven't made the shots like I did tonight."
The Heat put the game away in the third period, outscoring the Celtics 31-19 to open an 89-62 lead. Hardaway scored 13 points, including hitting three 3-pointers.
"We've been stressing finishing teams off in the second half," Jones said. "We didn't want to give them the confidence to get back into the game."
Notes: The Celtics are 3-11 on the road. ... The Celtics play
their next three games at home. ... Heat backup point guard Anthony
Carter played for the first time since straining his groin Dec. 22.
Carter, who missed the previous six games, scored five points in 19
minutes ... Hardaway committed his first turnover in four games.
Hardaway had gone 93 minutes without a turnover, but that stretch
ended with his only turnover of the night in the third quarter. ...
The Heat's Dan Majerle scored eight points in 19 minutes, his best
game since coming off the injured list Dec. 22.