Sacramento coach is fired

FILE - In this April 13, 2011, file photo, Sacramento Kings head coach Paul Westphal reacts as his team falls behind the Los Angeles Lakers during the second half of an NBA basketball game in Sacramento, Calif. President of basketball operations Geoff Petrie announced on Thursday, Jan. 5, 2012, that the Kings have fired coach Paul Westphal after two-plus seasons and a 2-5 start so far. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez, File)

Miami at Atlanta, 8 p.m.

Kings: Sacramento fired coach Paul Westphal on Thursday, cutting ties after two-plus seasons amid a slow start and an escalating dispute with young center DeMarcus Cousins.

Kings president of basketball operations Geoff Petrie made the announcement ahead of the team’s home game against Milwaukee on Thursday night. Assistant coach Keith Smart, let go by the Golden State Warriors this summer after one season, will serve as head coach versus the Bucks.

Looking to build momentum for a new arena project, Sacramento stumbled at the start again this year. A talented and athletic — albeit raw — roster led by Westphal is 2-5 and in last place in the Pacific Division.

In two-plus seasons leading the Kings, Westphal finished with a 51-120 record. The 61-year-old Westphal also previously coached the Phoenix Suns and Seattle SuperSonics.

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