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Published: Monday, 3/21/2005

Cavaliers fire head coach

CLEVELAND Paul Silas was fired as coach of the Cleveland Cavaliers today with his team fighting for a playoff spot after being in first place earlier in the year.

Silas told The Associated Press he was called in this morning for a brief meeting with general manager Jim Paxson and new owner Dan Gilbert.

They released me, Silas said. They didn t think the team was performing as well as it should be and they wanted to make a change.

Despite having league superstar LeBron James, the Cavaliers have struggled since the All-Star break, losing nine of 12 and nine straight road games, including Sunday s 105-98 loss to Toronto when James scored a franchise-record 56.

Silas said he was not given a detailed explanation of why he was fired, but there have been issues over the last few weeks that have resulted in the Cavaliers slide after they went into the All-Star break 30-21.

It all may have culminated Sunday when Silas benched starting guard Jeff McInnis and replaced him with Eric Snow. Snow did not score in Cleveland s loss at Toronto and McInnis, despite dressed and available, didn t play.

Earlier this season, Silas threw Snow off the bench after the two exchanged words during the first quarter of a game at Detroit, a move that stunned the team because of Snow s reputation as a leader.

Last week, Silas was fined $10,000 by the team for a derogatory comment he made about Utah forward Carlos Boozer.

Silas made the remark to reporters a day before Boozer was to return to Cleveland after leaving the Cavaliers as a free agent last summer. Boozer didn t travel with the Jazz because of a foot injury. Silas later apologized for the remark.

Read more in tomorrow's Blade and toledoblade.com.

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