(Sports Network) - Elton Brand scored a season-high 27 points and grabbed nine rebounds, as Philadelphia bested the Washington Wizards, 104-89, to give new head coach Tony DiLeo a win in his 76ers coaching debut.
Maurice Cheeks, who had served as the Sixers head coach since May 2005, was relieved of his duties early Saturday after the team stumbled to a 9-14 start. Philadelphia had been viewed in the preseason as one of the more talented teams in the Eastern Conference after adding Brand in the offseason and re- signing forward/guard Andre Iguodala to a long-term contract.
"I made the decision because I felt we were not progressing the way we wanted to progress," said Philadelphia general manager Ed Stefanski. "I feel on the floor we weren't executing the philosophy that we want to have as Sixers basketball. I told (Cheeks) we needed to go in a different direction and make a change. He was very gracious about it. He's a Sixer and is rooting for us to turn this around."
DiLeo, who has served in the Sixers' front office for almost two decades and has coached professionally in what used to be West Germany, took over for his first coaching stint in the NBA and will serve as the head coach for the remainder of the season.
"One thing I was proud of was the way we kept up the energy," DiLeo said of his first win. "I really like our defense. Happy with the win, extremely grateful to the assistant coaches. I felt comfortable [coaching again]. It was like riding a bike."
Lou Williams added 15 points for the 76ers, who snapped a three-game losing streak. Thaddeus Young had 14 points, while Samuel Dalembert complemented his five-point night by tying a season-high with 17 rebounds. Andre Miller provided eight points and a game-high 12 assists.
"It was a big game for our sake with the coaching changes," Brand said. "Losing so many home games in a row and having to deal with a hockey game here in the morning, there was a lot on the guys minds, and we had to have this victory."
Antawn Jamison had 17 points and nine rebounds for Washington, which has lost five of six. Wizards newcomer Mike James, who was acquired by Washington in a three-way trade with the Hornets and Grizzlies that also brought guard Javaris Crittenton to the Wizards, scored 16 points, and DeShawn Stevenson also had 16 in the loss. Caron Butler added 15 points and eight rebounds for Washington.
"You just have to be positive and try to work through this," Stevenson said. "It's going to be tough. We'll pick it up in practice. Tonight was a game where we could've at least won or brought it to the wire. Just put this on us."
Brand scored eight points in the first quarter, helping the 76ers to a 25-20 edge after the opening 12 minutes.
The Wizards came as close as 35-34 on Darius Songaila's jumper, but the Sixers ripped off a 12-0, capped by Miller's layup, to take a 13-point advantage with three minutes left in the half.
Brand ended up with 16 points by halftime to lead all scorers, as Philadelphia took a 51-40 lead into the break.
The Sixers scored the first six points of the second half and pushed their lead to as high as 20 on an Iguodala three-point play halfway through the third. The Wizards closed the gap somewhat and trailed 79-65 headed into the fourth.
Washington made it a 12-point game late in the fourth but never seriously threatened to launch a comeback bid, as Philadelphia cruised to the victory.
Iguodala had 14 points for the Sixers, while Willie Green provided 13 points...The Wizards are also one of the five teams to fire their coach this season. Eddie Jordan was let go after the Wizards started the season 1-10... Washington dropped to 1-8 on the road, while interim head coach Ed Tapscott dropped to 3-7 since taking over the team...Juan Dixon had 10 points -- all in the first quarter -- for Washington...Philadelphia shot 51.4 percent (38- of-74) from the field, while the Wizards shot 41.0 percent (34-of-83).