IT SEEMS THAT, FOR Chicago Bulls coach Scott Skiles, along with drinking egg nog, wrapping presents and watching "It's a Wonderful Life," 'tis also the season to get fired.

Skiles, 43, was unceremoniously axed on Christmas Eve in only his fourth season at the helm. The decision arguably was fueled by a demoralizing 116-98 loss Saturday to the Rockets that has the team sitting with the third-worst record in the Eastern Conference at 9-16.

"Hardly a day goes by that I don't demand accountability and stress," Skiles told the Chicago Tribune. "Today was just my day to be held accountable."

Of course, Skiles' day couldn't have come, let's say, on an idle Thursday or Saturday, but it just so happens it arrived 24 hours before one of the most festive and joyous holidays of the year.

Now, is that considered bad timing or good

management?

Giants fans in the giving mood

It appears that the only football fanatics who could not care less whether Tom Brady and his Patriots finish the regular season undefeated are Giants fans.

Many of them have been selling tickets to their regular-season finale Saturday at Giants Stadium left and right on such Web auction sites as StubHub.com.

According to the Star-Ledger, of Newark, N.J., Internet auction sites began seeing a surge in

ticket sales Monday, thanks to Big Blue fans, with 3,000 tickets posted alone on StubHub.com, including some going for as much as $1,600 apiece. The Giants clinched an NFC playoff berth with Sunday's 38-21 win against Buffalo.

"Although it's meaningless to the Giants, it's still going to be a great game to watch," StubHub's Joellen Ferrer told the newspaper. "It's definitely one of our top sellers, and it looks like it's on pace to be one of our top 25 events of all time."

With a win over the Giants, the Patriots would become the first team since the 1972 Miami

Dolphins (14-0) to finish undefeated, a feat no fan wants to see happen at their expense. *

- Kerith Gabriel