Nets fire coach over 0-16 season start

The New Jersey Nets fired coach Lawrence Frank on Sunday after a disappointing 0-16 season start.

Assistant Tom Barrise will coach the team Sunday night in Los Angeles against the Lakers, when the Nets could tie the record for the worst start if they lose.

The Nets said a permanent replacement for Frank has not been determined.

Frank was in his sixth full season, the longest-tenured coach in the Eastern Conference and the best winning recorder in the Nets' NBA history. But none of those victories came this season, and the team dismissed him with a 225-241 record.

Frank New Jersey, began his career with a 13-game winning streak, the best coaching start in league history. But he couldn't overcome a losing streak that was even longer, just a game shy of the 17-game skids set by the 1988-89 Miami Heat and the 1999 Los Angeles Clippers.

Plagued by injuries this season, the Nets faced some games where they were missing four starters and suited up the minimum eight players. Still, they played hard and stayed close for most of those games, figuring the wins would come when they started getting some bodies back.

After three and half seasons as a Nets assistant, Frank replaced the fired Byron Scott on Jan. 26, 2004.

He quickly turned around a struggling team with his record-setting start, winning Eastern Conference coach of the month honors in February after leading the Nets to an 11-2 record, a franchise-record 84.6 percent winning percentage.

The Nets made the playoffs in each of Frank's first four seasons, advancing to the second round in three of them, before returning to their longtime losing ways while slashing payroll in recent years.

Jason Kidd was traded in February 2008, fellow veterans Richard Jefferson and Vince Carter were gone by last summer's draft, and only the Kidd deal that landed All-Star point guard Devin Harris brought back much in return.

So after losing in the East semifinals in 2006 and 2007, the Nets stumbled to 34-48 finishes the last two seasons.

Plagued by poor attendance and heavy financial losses while playing at the Meadowlands, the Nets have been looking ahead to a move to Brooklyn. While management could make decisions with that in mind, Frank ultimately paid the price for what was happening in the present.

Owners will vote by the end of next month whether to approve the sale of the team to Russian Mikhail Prokhorov.

If the sale goes through, as expected, Prokhorov could decide to bring in his own coaching staff.

Pique, Pedro strike as Barcelona dominate Inter

Barcelona outplayed Inter from start to finish in their Group F Champions League clash at Camp Nou, running out 2-0 winners thanks to first half goals from Gerard Pique and Pedro.

The Blaugrana are now on the verge of qualification to the knockout stages after a dominant performance where the Nerazzurri rarely threatened.

In undoubtedly the biggest game of the competition so far, all eyes were on Catalonia as the respective coaches Pep Guardiola and Jose Mourinho locked horns.

Yaya Toure was omitted for Barcelona after picking up the H1N1 virus, while Dmytro Chygrynskiy was ineligible. The unfit Lionel Messi and Zlatan Ibrahimovic sat on the bench meaning a forward trident of Andres Iniesta, Thierry Henry and Pedro.

Inter, who could have qualified with a win, were without Davide Santon and Wesley Sneijder, the latter who failed a late fitness test before kick-off. They were otherwise at full strength as Samuel Eto'o partnered Diego Milito up-front.

Barcelona attacked right from the start, and Inter barely managed to get out of their own half in the opening stages as the home side launched wave after wave.

A goal was inevitable, and it arrived on 10 minutes as a corner from the left was flicked on for Gerard Pique to fire home at the back post.

Barca continued to attack. Iniesta got in behind enemy lines, but perhaps too unselfishly decided to cross the ball. Henry's ferocious drive was beaten away by Julio Cesar, although the Frenchman was offside.

The second Barcelona goal arrived on 27 minutes following a brilliant team move. One touch passes were exchanged before Dani Alves lifted the ball up to the back post forPedro to volley into the far corner.

It took until the 35th minute for Inter to register their first shot as a mistake from Victor Valdes ended in an attempted lob by Dejan Stankovic, but his effort was well over.

Some of Barcelona's one-touch passing was a delight to watch, and there were long stretches where Inter could get nowhere near the ball, as the likes of Iniesta and Xavi ran the show.

Inter made one change at half-time as Sulley Muntari replaced Esteban Cambiasso.

The Nerazzurri had the first chance of the second half as Maicon released Milito. The Argentine opted to square the ball to Eto'o, who was shouldered off the ball by Dani Alves. Eto'o asked for a penalty, but the referee didn't want to know.

It should have been 3-0 on 53 minutes as Dani Alves crossed to Xavi, but the Spaniard's header was somehow clawed out of the bottom corner by Julio Cesar. It was a miraculous stop.

Julio Cesar continued to excel, and he got down well to turn a Xavi free kick around the post.

Eto'o managed to escape his man, but sliced the ball horribly off target, before Mario Balotelli was thrown on in the last 20 minutes in a 4-3-3.

Henry blazed over from distance, while Thiago Motta headed wide down the other end as Barcelona ran out 2-0 winners.

This result means that the final day in Group F will decide matters. Barcelona are top with 8 points, followed by Inter (6), Rubin Kazan (6) and Dinamo Kiev (5).

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