Auburn Hills, MI (SportsNetwork.com) - Not even a two-game winning streak could save Maurice Cheeks.
The Detroit Pistons fired their head coach on Sunday, making the decision after the club had two of its best recent performances -- double-digit home wins over Brooklyn and Denver.
Cheeks lasted just 50 games with the Pistons, who are 21-29 this season. Despite the dismal record, Detroit enters Sunday's action just one-half game behind eighth-place Charlotte for the final playoff spot in the lowly Eastern Conference.
"Our record does not reflect our talent and we simply need a change," said Pistons owner Tom Gores in a statement Sunday. "We have not made the kind of progress that we should have over the first half of the season. This is a young team and we knew there would be growing pains, but we can be patient only as long as there is progress."
The Pistons were just 6-10 after the first month of the season, then won four straight games to start December. A six-game skid after Christmas left Detroit 14-22 and the club has played .500 ball over the last 14 games.
Yahoo! Sports was the first to break the news on Sunday and indicated in its report that president of basketball operations Joe Dumars made the decision with pressure mounting from ownership for a change.
"This was a difficult decision for the organization to make, but we needed to make a change," Dumars said in the team's statement. "We have great respect for Maurice and appreciate his hard work."
A replacement was not immediately named.
The Pistons are trying to end a four-year playoff skid, which is the longest for the franchise since a six-year drought from 1977-78 through 1982-83.
"The responsibility does not fall squarely on any one individual, but right now this change is a necessary step toward turning this thing around," Gores added. "I still have a lot of hope for this season and I expect our players to step up. I respect and appreciate Maurice Cheeks and thank him for his efforts; we just require a different approach."
Cheeks had previous coaching stops in Portland (2001-05) and Philadelphia (2005-09) and owns a career mark of 305-315. He guided teams to the postseason three times in eight years, but never won a playoff series.