Wizards-Knicks Preview

(AP) – Derek Fisher had just finished a long playing career when Phil Jackson picked him to coach the New York Knicks. Just 1 1/2 seasons later, Jackson decided he needed someone else.

Fisher was fired Monday, with his team having lost five straight and nine of 10 to fall well back in the Eastern Conference playoff race.

''It's time for us to make a change, turn this team around and move forward and get some wins and keep going down the road we had started here at the beginning of the year,'' Jackson said at the team's practice facility.

Associate head coach Kurt Rambis was promoted to interim head coach at least through the rest of the season. Rambis, like Fisher an ex-Laker player and a former assistant under Jackson, went 32-132 as Minnesota's coach from 2009-11.

He'll take over the reigns for the first time Tuesday night when New York takes on the struggling Washington Wizards at Madison Square Garden.

The Knicks have fallen to 23-31, dropping Fisher's overall record to 40-96. Jackson hired Fisher in June 2014, just weeks after Fisher was done playing.

''It's a huge transition from being a player to a coach at any point in time, let alone the season after you retire from playing,'' Rambis said. “I think he was laying the foundation of doing things the right way and turning this franchise around.''

But Fisher wasn't winning lately, and though Jackson praised his work ethic, he had seen enough of the Knicks' slow starts and faulty finishes. The Knicks went 17-65 last season but upgraded their roster during the summer with the drafting of Kristaps Porzingis and the signing of veterans Arron Afflalo and Robin Lopez.

They had the look of a playoff team most of the season but are stumbling into the All-Star break. Fans loudly booed when they fell behind by 19 points during Sunday's 101-96 loss to Denver.

Carmelo Anthony had 21 points and seven assists, Porzingis contributed 21 points and 13 rebounds and Afflalo scored 15. Afflalo has averaged 17.8 points in his last four games and Porzingis has totaled 38 points, 23 boards and eight blocks over the past two.

Anthony said his sore left knee felt better after sitting out Friday's 91-85 home loss to Memphis. The forward has reportedly undergone two MRIs in the past three weeks.

The Knicks are struggling on both ends of the floor, averaging 95.9 points on 40.9 percent shooting in their last 10 games while allowing 106.3 over the past 15.

They could get right offensively against a Washington team that has allowed 111.4 points per game while dropping eight of 11. The Wizards will try to avoid a season-high third straight road defeat following Saturday's 108-104 loss at Charlotte.

John Wall finished with 23 points and 10 assists and Bradley Beal scored 22 off the bench, but the Wizards (22-27) couldn't hold on after building a 19-point lead.

“When we get up 15 or more points, we always lose leads,” said Wall, who has averaged 27.3 points in the last three games. “We have to figure out a way to play better.”

Washington has won four in a row at the Garden but had a seven-game winning streak in this series snapped with a 117-110 loss Oct. 31. Anthony had a season high-tying 37 points, while Wall and Beal totaled 51.

Washington's Nene could miss his third straight game due to a calf injury.