It had been 18 years since Tony DiLeo paced the sideline as a coach - and that came in another country.
Elton Brand scored a season-high 27 points, leading Philadelphia to a 104-89 victory over the struggling Washington Wizards last night in DiLeo's coaching debut with the 76ers.
"I did feel comfortable," DiLeo said. "Coaching is like managing. Anytime I had a question, the assistant coaches were there to answer them. The game flew by and brought back a lot of feelings."
Antawn Jamison scored 17 points, Mike James and DeShawn Stevenson added 16 apiece and Caron Butler had 15 for the Wizards (4-17), who are in last place in the Southeast Division. The Wizards are 1-8 on the road.
"We've got to stop digging holes," Washington coach Ed Tapscott said. "You can't wait until the fourth quarter to get serious."
Lou Williams added 15 points, for the Sixers, who and improved to 10-14.
Cheeks didn't receive that type of balance on a consistent basis and was subsequently fired earlier yesterday as coach of the Sixers, who were slumping badly a season after making the playoffs. DiLeo, the team's assistant general manager, was appointed coach for rest of the season.
"It's up to the players to work through this and continue to improve," Brand said. "We have a lot of pride and we're going to get better. Tony talked to us before the game and he knows we'll go out and play hard for him."
DiLeo played and coached in West Germany for 10 seasons before joining the Sixers in 1990-91. He has extensive experience in international basketball as a player and a coach, and had a brief stint as an NBA assistant in the early 1990s.
"It was a whirlwind, but it was great," DiLeo said. "It was a great feeling. I'm really happy for the players."
The Sixers had lost their previous five home games. Samuel Dalembert pulled down 17 rebounds.
"[DiLeo] has always supported me on and off the court," Dalembert said. I think we'll have a good relationship. I respect him and he respects me."