PHILADELPHIA (AP)—It had been 18 years since Tony DiLeo paced the sideline as a coach—and that came in another country.
Though he couldn’t revel in the circumstances of his elevation to coach of the Philadelphia 76ers because of his close relationship with Maurice Cheeks, the experience didn’t seem any different.
“I did feel comfortable,” DiLeo said. “Coaching is like managing. Any time I had a question, the assistant coaches were there to answer them. The game flew by and brought back a lot of feelings.”
Cheeks didn’t receive that type of balance on a consistent basis and was subsequently fired earlier Saturday 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 both a player and a coach, and had a brief stint as an NBA assistant in the early 1990s, but hadn’t been in a huddle in the league in more than a decade.
“It was a whirlwind, but it was great,” DiLeo said. “It was a great feeling. I’m really happy for the players.”
“(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.”
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.”
DiLeo has spent 19 seasons with the 76ers. He was promoted to senior vice president and assistant general manager in 2003.
When DiLeo was announced in pregame introductions, he received a smattering of boos from the crowd. Those boos quickly turned into cheers. The Sixers were up 79-65 after the third quarter and were never seriously challenged in the fourth.
“It was good to get a win for all of us,” Iguodala said. “When a change like this happens, it sends a message of uncertainty that you don’t know what might happen next. We’ve got to turn it on.”
Washington never got within single digits the rest of the way.
Philadelphia led by as many as 14 points in the first half and held a 51-40 advantage at halftime.
Notes:@ Williams, who was a game-time decision because of food poisoning, came off the bench early in the first quarter. … The Wizards missed eight straight field goals in the second quarter. … The Sixers outrebounded Washington 46-37.