MINNEAPOLIS - Randy Wittman was fired as coach of the Minnesota Timberwolves yesterday, two days after an embarrassing 23-point loss at home to the Los Angeles Clippers.

Kevin McHale, vice president of basketball operations, took over as coach.

"It just looks like the guys are very beaten down," McHale said. "They've only played 19 games this season. They have 63 games left. It's no time to be beaten down. There's still time to rally and get going."

The young team has a 4-15 record and has not responded to Wittman's demands for tough defense. The Timberwolves are in the midst of a five-game losing streak in which the average margin of defeat has been nearly 17 points.

This was the fourth NBA coaching firing this season following those of P.J. Carlesimo (Oklahoma City), Eddie Jordan (Washington), and Sam Mitchell (Toronto).

Wittman was 38-105 since taking over for Dwane Casey in January 2007.