The Toronto Raptors fired coach Sam Mitchell yesterday and replaced him with assistant Jay Triano, 1 day after an embarrassing loss at Denver.

Mitchell led the Raptors to the playoffs in each of the last two seasons and was honored as the NBA's coach of the year for 2006-07.

Toronto was off to an 8-9 start, in part because of injuries.

General manager Bryan Colangelo said Tuesday's 132-93 loss to the Nuggets was the final straw.

"Obviously, last night's game was just an absolute kick to the gut," Colangelo said. "When you look back, it's a culmination of things. Expectations are high. We want to win."

Colangelo said Triano, the first Canadian head coach in NBA history, likely would be in charge for the rest of the season. Triano is in his seventh season on the Raptors' coaching staff.

Noteworthy

* For the fourth straight year, the New York Knicks are the NBA's most valuable team. The Knicks are worth $613 million, according to

Forbes'

latest rankings, an increase of 1 percent over their 2007 value. The 76ers are No. 13 at $360 million. The average team value is $379 million.

* Former NBA standout Rodney Rogers is beginning rehabilitation in Atlanta for a spinal-cord injury suffered in an all-terrain vehicle crash in North Carolina.

In games last night:

* At Boston, Rajon Rondo (16 points, 13 rebounds, 17 assists) notched his first career triple-double and Ray Allen scored 31 points, leading the Celtics past Indiana, 114-96.

* At Cleveland, LeBron James scored 21 points as the Cavaliers beat New York, 118-82.

* At Charlotte, Emeka Okafor had 25 points and 13 rebounds as the Bobcats beat the Oklahoma City Thunder, 103-97.

* At Orlando, Dwight Howard had 23 points and 14 rebounds, and Rashard Lewis also scored 23 points to lead the Magic to a 100-89 victory over Minnesota.

* At New Orleans, Chris Paul's 24 points and 15 assists led the Hornets over Phoenix, 104-91.

* At Washington, Brandon Roy scored 22 points as Portland beat the Wizards, 98-92.

* At Atlanta, Joe Johnson scored 26 points as the Hawks handed Memphis its seventh straight loss, 105-95.

* At Houston, Yao Ming had 24 points as the Rockets beat the Los Angeles Clippers, 103-96.

* At Salt Lake City, Dwyane Wade scored 23 points to lead Miami over Utah, 93-89.

* At Milwaukee, Charlie Villanueva scored 11 of his 23 points in the fourth quarter to lift the Bucks to a 97-90 win over Chicago. *