DENVER (AFP) - Brian Shaw was fired as coach of the NBA's Denver Nuggets on Tuesday after going 56-85 in a season and a half in the job, the team announced on Tuesday.
Melvin Hunt, in his fifth season as an assistant coach for the Nuggets, was named the club's interim coach for the remainder of the season.
The Nuggets have lost six games in a row and fallen to 20-39, third-worst in the Western Conference and 12 1/2 games behind Oklahoma City for the final playoff spot in the West with 23 games remaining in the season.
"You won't find a better guy than Brian and he is one of the brightest basketball minds I've ever been around," said Nuggets general manager and vice-president of basketball operations Tim Connelly.
"Unfortunately things didn't go as we hoped, but we know with his basketball acumen that he has a very bright future."
Shaw was hired to replace George Karl when he was fired in 2013 after guiding the Nuggets to nine consecutive playoff trips.
Never missing the playoffs from 2004 to 2013, the Nuggets lost in the first round nine times and reached the 2009 conference finals, losing to the Los Angeles Lakers.
The Nuggets went 36-46 last season, missing the playoffs in Shaw's first campaign, and were struggling this season.
"Expectations have been raised and we want more," Connelly said.
"This season our management staff has remained patient and supportive as decisions of this nature are never taken lightly.
"Patience is encouraged, as long as the organisation continues to show progress toward a greater goal.
"However, competing for championships is our goal, and therefore we decided to make this decision now and look forward to conducting an extensive head coaching search upon the season's conclusion."
Players reportedly chanted "One, two, three, six," in breaking huddles on Friday, a chant Shaw said represented the number of weeks the team had gone without a home victory.
Others took that to mean there were only six more weeks remaining before the end of the regular season. Both time span figures cited were correct.
Hunt spent five seasons as an assistant with the Cleveland Cavaliers before coming to Denver and also worked with the Los Angeles Lakers and Houston Rockets.