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Fratello Ends Poor Season by Resigning : Basketball: Coach was under fire because Atlanta Hawks failed to make the NBA playoffs.

From Associated Press

Mike Fratello, under fire because his team failed to make the NBA playoffs, resigned today as coach of the Atlanta Hawks after seven seasons.

“For the best interests of the Atlanta Hawks and in my best interests, it’s probably best for both of us if we part ways at this time,” Fratello said at a news conference with Hawks’ officials.

The Hawks, plagued by injuries and internal bickering this season, finished 41-41 despite winning six of their last seven games. They failed to make the playoffs for only the second time in Fratello’s seven seasons and for the first time in five years.

“Today is not a sad day,” Fratello, with a career record of 324-250, said. “This is a day of moving on for the two sides.”

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The news conference followed the team’s end-of-the-season meeting at the Omni. There had been speculation that Fratello would be fired, but Hawks President Stan Kasten said the departure was Fratello’s decision.

“Mike came to the realization that this would be good for him,” Kasten said. “I support that decision; I agree with him.”

Kasten said no decision has been made about a new coach. Fratello’s contract expired when the Hawks ended their season Saturday night with a 130-109 victory over Miami.

“No question this is my most disappointing season,” Kasten said after the Miami game. “That this team is not going to be in the playoffs is unbelievable. I’m really having a difficult time with that.

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“To think that Cleveland and Milwaukee are in the playoffs with a much worse injury situation than we had, and we’re finished tonight. It’s very distressing to me.”

Dominique Wilkins said a slow start was Atlanta’s downfall.

“No doubt in my mind if we played all season the way we played the last two weeks, we’d be in the playoffs. If we’d play two more games at any point in the season, we’d be in the playoffs.”

In the last two weeks, he said, “we played to our potential. We played hard, and we played together. We passed the ball and played defense like we all knew we could, like everybody thought we could.”

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Wilkins finished with a 26.7-point average, half a point better than the previous year but his second-lowest in six years.


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