Basketball: Lakers sack coach Harris

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DENNIS RODMAN'S signing for the Los Angeles Lakers came too late to save their coach, Del Harris, from being sacked on Wednesday, said the club's president, Jerry West. Harris will be replaced by one of his assistants, either Larry Drew or Kurt Rambis. "We have confidence that one of those two people would do a good job for us based on their time around the office," West said.

Harris's firing, one day after the signing of Rodman, follows a sequence of three losses in as many days, including embarrassing defeats by the lowly Denver Nuggets and Vancouver Grizzlies.

With a line-up that features youthful talents such as Shaquille O'Neal and Kobe Bryant, the Lakers were tipped as one of the title favourites in the lockout-shortened season. But the team has often appeared disorganised in compiling a mediocre 6-6 record.

"I wouldn't exactly say we were floundering," West said. "We get paid a lot of money to make these decisions and to say they are easy, they are not. I had trouble sleeping last night and I will have trouble sleeping again tonight," admitted the Hall of Fame member who starred for the Lakers in his playing days.

The Lakers were scheduled to begin a home-and-home series against the Los Angeles Clippers late last night with Bill Bertka manning the bench as a decision is made on Drew or Rambis. Rodman is set to make his Lakers debut today at the Great Western Forum against the Clippers. Whoever gets the go-ahead as the new coach will have the task of fitting the controversial, flamboyant Rodman into the chemistry of the current line-up.

"From a playing perspective, I don't think there's any doubt he will help our basketball team," West said of Rodman, who has won five National Basketball Association championships in his career - the last three with the Chicago Bulls.

"Sometimes we need a little fire. He will add some spice to the Lakers," West said. "Any coach that has ever had Dennis will tell you he brings tenacity to the table."

England beat Belarus 61-56 in any uncompromisingly tough encounter in the semi-final round of the European Championship at Crystal Palace on Wedneday night.

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