PHILADELPHIA -- Elton Brand got hurt. The 76ers kept winning. Samuel Dalembert went down. The Sixers won again.
Now imagine how potent that frontcourt might be if that duo were able to team up from the opening tip.
"That's what we all want to see," guard Willie Green said.
They'll have to keep waiting.
Green scored a season-high 20 points, Andre Iguodala also had 20 and the Philadelphia 76ers kicked off a seven-game homestand with a 104-94 win over the pesky Washington Wizards on Friday night.
The Sixers built a 15-point lead in the first half, then watched it evaporate against the worst team in the NBA once Dalembert was lost with a sprained left ankle. Dalembert gave the Sixers a steady shot-blocking presence -- and erratic scoring -- in the middle for 235 consecutive games. He landed awkwardly going for an offensive rebound late in the first half and immediately grabbed his ankle. He was even whistled for a three-second violation as he lay on the court.
Dalembert will be evaluated Saturday and probably will miss Philadelphia's game against New Jersey.
"We're going to have to tighten up our team defense if Sam is not able to go (Saturday) or in the near future," coach Tony DiLeo said.
Exit Dalembert, enter Brand.
Brand came off the bench for the fourth consecutive game, easing back into the lineup as he recovers from a dislocated right shoulder. He scored nine points in 26 minutes and will likely start at center against the Nets.
Brand is ready for major minutes and the opportunity to prove he's back as a double-double threat.
"It's not a problem at all," Brand said. "I don't want to disrupt anything out there, I'm still finding my way."
Thaddeus Young filled in with 18 points and nine rebounds in 43 minutes.
The Sixers (23-22) took off in Brand's absence, winning seven consecutive in one stretch and have now won 10 of 12 to move above .500 for the first time since they were 7-6 on Nov. 23.
They lost four in a row after that mark in a skid that eventually cost former coach Maurice Cheeks his job. The Sixers are 14-8 under DiLeo and were counting on a strong showing on their longest homestand of the season to shoot them up the Eastern Conference standings.
"We're feeling good, we're playing great and to have that advantage of playing on the home court, I really feel like we have the chance of turning the corner," guard Lou Williams said.
The Wizards gamely rallied and briefly went ahead late in the third quarter, only to lose their fifth consecutive game. Antawn Jamison had 25 points and 15 rebounds for the Wizards, Caron Butler scored 20 points and Dominic McGuire had 16.
Royal Ivey hit a pair of tiebreaking 3-pointers in the final two minutes of the third, the latter of which gave the Sixers the lead for good.
Green scored 16 points in the first quarter, going 7-for-10 from the floor, to spark Philadelphia to a fast 15-point lead.
The Sixers needed all of it, because the Wizards got the better of them most of the rest of the way.
Jamison's layup off a turnover gave Washington a 64-63 lead, and Javaris Crittenton immediately followed with an off-balance bucket to cap an 18-4 run.
"They have a bad record, but they're not a bad team," Green said.
Those words aren't enough to comfort Washington.
"That's been the story all season, we can't close games out," McGuire said.
Ivey, a 36 percent 3-point shooter, brought Philadelphia back with the long ball.
He sank one 3 that tied the score then hit another for a 71-68 lead. Williams, who scored 14 points, buried a 27-footer as the quarter expired.
Williams scored seven points during an 11-2 run in the middle of the fourth that pushed the lead back to 10. Iguodala scored the next six for the Sixers, who had the depth to wear down the weary Wizards.
"You have nothing left in the tank because you have to struggle back from so many points down," said Wizards interim coach Ed Tapscott. "If we take the first quarter out, we win by five."
Instead, they've lost five consecutive.
|Philadelphia (23-22) «||32||14||28||30||104|
|WAS:A. Jamison 25 Pts
WAS:A. Jamison 15 Reb
WAS:J. Crittenton 7 Ast
|PHI:A. Iguodala 20 Pts
PHI:T. Young 9 Reb
PHI:A. Miller 9 Ast
|Players of the Game|
|C. Butler, SF||42||5-13||9-9||3||5||5||20|
|A. Jamison, PF||40||11-21||2-4||15||0||2||25|
|D. McGuire, PF||34||6-11||4-4||5||3||1||16|
|D. Songaila, PF||32||4-8||2-2||1||2||5||10|
|M. James, PG||16||1-4||0-0||2||3||0||2|
|D. Stevenson, SG||23||0-6||1-2||3||4||1||1|
|J. Crittenton, PG||20||7-10||1-3||4||7||2||15|
|J. McGee, C||14||0-1||2-2||6||0||3||2|
|N. Young, SG||10||1-5||0-0||0||1||0||2|
|J. Dixon, SG||9||0-1||1-2||0||2||0||1|
|E. Thomas, C||Did Not Play|
|G. Arenas, PG||Did Not Play|
|B. Haywood, C||Did Not Play|
|A. Blatche, SF||Did Not Play|
|O. Pecherov, C||Did Not Play|
|Complete Box Score|
|T. Young, SF||42||7-19||2-2||9||1||4||18|
|A. Iguodala, SF||38||9-15||1-4||4||4||2||20|
|A. Miller, PG||34||3-3||0-0||6||9||5||6|
|W. Green, SG||24||9-15||0-0||1||5||3||20|
|S. Dalembert, C||14||0-1||0-0||2||0||0||0|
|L. Williams, SG||29||5-10||2-4||2||7||0||14|
|E. Brand, PF||26||4-5||1-2||3||0||3||9|
|M. Speights, PF||13||2-4||4-4||2||1||1||8|
|R. Evans, PF||10||1-1||1-4||7||1||3||3|
|R. Ivey, PG||10||2-4||0-0||0||0||0||6|
|D. Marshall, PF||Did Not Play|
|T. Ratliff, C||Did Not Play|
|K. Rush, SG||Did Not Play|
|J. Smith, PF||Did Not Play|
|Complete Box Score|