WASHINGTON -- One coaching switch is paying quick dividends. The other is looking like a disaster.
The battle of interim coaches went to the Philadelphia 76ers for the second time in less than a week, with Tony DiLeo's team persevering through the loss of leading scorer Elton Brand to pull out a 109-103 victory over the Washington Wizards on Friday night.
Lou Williams scored 26 points -- including 16 straight Philadelphia points during one stretch in the first half -- to post his second career-high game in a row. Thaddeus Young, starting in place of Brand in a smaller lineup, and Andre Iguodala added 18 points apiece, and rookie Marreese Speights had a career-high 17 for the 76ers, who improved to 3-0 under DiLeo.
"Guys are playing a little bit more freer under Tony," said Williams, who is averaging more than twice as many points (22.0) in three games under DiLeo than he did in 22 games (10.1) under fired coach Maurice Cheeks. "That's just the style of coach he is. He lays his principles out and rolls the balls out and tells us to go out and play."
Williams and Speights helped compensate for the 15.9 points and 9.8 rebounds per game the 76ers had been getting from Brand, who is out for a month after dislocating his shoulder Wednesday night against Milwaukee. Brand's presence on the boards was missed as Philadelphia was outrebounded 43-34, but no obstacle is too big to overcome when facing a Wizards team that is 4-20 and has its third five-game losing streak of the season.
"When you lose a guy of his caliber, everybody has to step in and create havoc," said Williams, who did that before he even entered the game with all his screaming and hollering on the bench. "That's what we try and do -- create a little havoc."
The Wizards can't create anything except the impression that they're a team that's starting to expect defeat. They regularly fall apart in the fourth quarter, and it seemed inexcusable that they were settling for wayward jump shots instead of getting the ball to their two best players -- Caron Butler and Antawn Jamison -- in a tight game in the final two minutes.
"I'm an observer on the court saying the same thing," said Butler, who had 20 points but six turnovers. "But that's not the case. I execute the offense that's drawn up in the huddle."
Andray Blatche missed two jumpers and DeShawn Stevenson missed one for the Wizards in those crucial possessions. Interim coach Ed Tapscott, 3-10 since replacing Eddie Jordan, was upset that no one was driving to the paint.
"When you're under stress, under pressure, you tend to revert to things that you've done before," Tapscott said. "Now if you have enough pain doing those things it'll alter what you do, and we're going through that pain right now."
Jamison scored 23 points despite playing with a strained left thumb, and Mike James had 16 in his second consecutive Wizards start.
The 76ers beat the Wizards 104-89 in DiLeo's debut last Saturday. This game was much tighter, with 18 lead changes, 16 ties and no lead greater than eight points.
The last tie was broken by two free throws from Iguodala that made the score 103-101 with 2:15 remaining. With Blatche and Stevenson missing jumpers, all the 76ers had to do was make free throws the rest of the way to seal the Brand-less victory.
"It gives us some confidence," DiLeo said. "It gives us some momentum. Guys are finding their roles. A win is always good - no matter when it is. I think we have a little momentum."