EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. - The New Jersey Nets fired coach Lawrence Frank yesterday after losing their first 16 games during one of the worst starts in NBA history.

Assistant Tom Barrise coached the team last night in Los Angeles against the Lakers. Another loss and the Nets would tie the record for the worst start in league historyt.

The Nets said a permanent replacement for Frank hasn't been determined.

Frank was in his sixth full season, the winningest coach in the Nets' NBA history. He was dismissed with a 225-241 record.

"Lawrence always approached every day with a passion for his craft that was infectious, and his dedication to the game as well as his work ethic are to be both admired and appreciated," Nets president Rod Thorn said in a statement. "I wish he and his family only the best of good fortune in the future."

"It's tough, because he was the hardest worker on the team," center Brook Lopez said. "He's so passionate about what he does. It was a rough situation, and he did a great job of not using our injuries as an excuse. He came in every night and had us prepared."

Frank began his career with a 13-game winning streak, the best coaching start in league history. But he couldn't overcome a losing streak that was just a game shy of the 17-game skids of the 1988-89 Miami Heat and the 1999 Los Angeles Clippers.

Frank replaced the fired Byron Scott on Jan. 26, 2004. He is the second NBA coach fired this season, following his predecessor in New Jersey, Scott, who lost his job in New Orleans.