Pacers Fire Hill

INDIANAPOLIS - The Indiana Pacers, knocked out of the NBA playoffs in the first round for the fourth consecutive year, fired coach Bob Hill today.

Pacers president Donnie Walsh said he already has a list of possible successors, but would not disclose any names. He said there isn't a timetable for choosing a new coach.

Walsh said Kentucky Coach Rick Pitino was contacted, but wasn't interested.

Walsh called the decision to fire Hill difficult, but necessary.

"He got us in the playoffs, but everyone expects us to do better, and we have to make changes," Walsh said.

Hill compiled a 113-108 record in two-plus seasons as Pacers coach. He previously coached the New York Knicks.

Indiana, 41-41 last season, lost its first-round Eastern Conference series to the Knicks 3-1.

Hill signed a three-year contract extension in January, but only one season was guaranteed. After the Pacers were eliminated by the Knicks, Walsh said he would meet with owners Melvin and Herb Simon to evaluate the team's situation.

"We're all very disappointed that we haven't moved up to the next level. The coaching situation, my situation and our player roster will all be reviewed," Walsh said at that time.

The Pacers, who hoped to improve their team chemistry with offseason trades of Chuck Person and Micheal Williams to Minnesota for Pooh Richardson and Sam Mitchell, instead continued their inconsistent play and squeaked into the conference's eighth playoff spot by winning their final game.

Walsh also wouldn't speculate about his own future.

"There are a lot of rumors going around," he said. "There may have been forays into Pitino. My understanding is he's not available."

Los Angeles Lakers general manager Jerry West denied a report that he contacted Pitino about possibly replacing Randy Pfund as coach.

"It's not true," West said Monday of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution's weekend story. "If our owner (Dr. Jerry Buss) wanted to make a change, I think I would have heard about it and I haven't heard anything yet."

Pitino turned down an offer from the Hawks last week to replace the fired Bob Weiss as coach.

Suns need to rebound -- PHOENIX - The Phoenix Suns have to rebound in more ways than one in order to take control of their playoff series with the San Antonio Spurs.

Four games into the best-of-seven Western Conference semifinal, the Spurs have outrebounded the Suns 196-148, or about 12 a game. The hard work paid off with 111-96 and 117-103 victories at San Antonio that tied the series.

"San Antonio killed us on the boards, and we have to do a better job if we're going to win this series," guard Danny Ainge said.

The Suns also shot 41 percent in the road games, but Kevin Johnson said that would pick up for Game 5 at Phoenix tonight.

"I think our offense will take care of itself, but if they are dominating the boards offensively, that's going to hurt us and not allow us to run as much as we'd like," Johnson said.

The Spurs won their second straight even though rugged Antoine Carr hurt his left ankle early in Sunday's game and wasn't a factor the rest of the game.

In Carr's absence, Larry Smith held Charles Barkley to 35 percent shooting, continuing a struggle to find the range which perplexed Barkley throughout the first round.

Meanwhile, David Robinson had a career playoff-high 36 points and 16 rebounds for San Antonio.

"We've got to do what we've got to do. This is no time to shed tears," said J.R. Reid, who took up where Carr left off by scoring 16 points.

San Antonio Coach John Lucas said Carr would miss the pivotal fifth game, which will push one of the teams to the brink of elimination. Lucas hadn't settled on Reid, Smith or Terry Cummings as a replacement starter.

"I was either cursed or praised during the year for playing so many guys, but now they will be ready to start if we need them," Lucas said.