PHILADELPHIA -- While the rest of his teammates started hot, Elton Brand needed a little more time to find his rhythm.
The old veteran has hit his stride.
The Sixers are 7-2 and lead the Atlantic Division. It's their best start since Allen Iverson helped them open 10-0 on their way to the NBA Finals in 2000-01.
Brand, the oldest starter on a young squad, was averaging just 8.1 points and 7.1 rebounds entering the game. He didn't mind sharing the spotlight.
"I wasn't frustrated at all," Brand said. "If we win, I'm happy. I always have confidence in my game. I'm not impatient. I knew eventually my time would come where I'll be the go-to guy."
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Rookie Jimmer Fredette scored seven points in his first start for Sacramento. Filling in for injured leading scorer Marcus Thornton, the former BYU sensation shot 2 for 7. DeMarcus Cousins led the struggling Kings with 17 points.
"We didn't have our regular rotation so the other guys had to make adjustments," Kings coach Keith Smart said. "Their bench is their strength and gave them a huge lift."
Evan Turner had 16 points, 10 rebounds and eight assists, and Jrue Holiday added 17 points for Philadelphia, which had six players reach double figures. With second-year coach Doug Collins calling the shots and a deep roster, the Sixers are relevant again in sports-crazed Philadelphia.
After winning 41 games and losing to Miami in five games in the first round of the playoffs last year, the Sixers are one of the NBA's up-and-coming teams. They've won five games by at least a 20-point margin.
"Our guys came back in great shape, we're young, we're resilient," Collins said.
This game quickly turned into a rout early in the third quarter. An 11-0 run featuring three baskets from Brand extended the lead to 63-42. It reached 84-60 when Jodie Meeks hit his third 3-pointer of the quarter.
But this was Brand's night.
"He was struggling and he wants to work twice as hard," Collins said. "He's such a pro, he has an incredible routine. It was fun for our team to see him smile."
Brand shrugged it off in typical fashion.
"To me, it doesn't matter if it's Andre [Iguodala], Thad or Spencer [Hawes] stepping up, we're a team," Brand said.
Fans roared when Meeks hit a jumper midway through the fourth to give the Sixers 100 points, which means fans can take their ticket stubs to McDonald's for a free Big Mac on Wednesday.
The only negative for Philadelphia was an injury to Hawes, the starting center. He didn't play the second half because of a strained lower back. Collins said Hawes could return Wednesday night at New York.
The Sixers had another slow offensive start and trailed 11-8 midway through the first. Turner's driving layup with under a minute left gave Philadelphia a 22-20 lead, and it led the rest of the game.
Thornton missed his first game with a bruised left thigh. The Kings already were without starting forward Chuck Hayes, who is expected to miss three to four weeks with a dislocated left shoulder.
"They have a great bench," Tyreke Evans said. "They just put a whipping on us. We just broke down in the third quarter."
|The Kings do all they can to slow down Elton Brand, but the veteran PF finishes with a season-best 21 points and 10 boards. (Getty Images)|
|Philadelphia (7-2) «||26||26||32||28||112|
|SAC:D. Cousins 17 Pts
SAC:D. Cousins 10 Reb
SAC:F. Garcia 4 Ast
|PHI:E. Brand 21 Pts
PHI:E. Brand 10 Reb
PHI:J. Holiday 8 Ast
|Players of the Game|
|J. Salmons, SF||32||3-10||0-0||6||3||1||6|
|D. Cousins, C||31||7-15||3-3||10||1||5||17|
|J. Hickson, PF||26||1-5||1-2||6||0||0||3|
|T. Evans, PG||25||6-13||3-4||5||2||0||15|
|J. Fredette, PG||24||2-7||2-2||2||3||2||7|
|F. Garcia, SG||26||3-9||2-2||1||4||1||9|
|I. Thomas, PG||26||3-8||0-0||0||2||1||7|
|T. Outlaw, SF||19||1-8||1-3||3||0||1||3|
|J. Thompson, PF||17||6-7||1-5||4||1||0||13|
|D. Greene, SF||13||2-4||0-0||6||0||2||5|
|C. Hayes, PF||Did Not Play|
|M. Thornton, SG||Did Not Play|
|T. Honeycutt, SF||Did Not Play|
|H. Whiteside, C||Did Not Play|
|Complete Box Score|
|J. Holiday, PG||32||8-13||0-0||6||8||1||17|
|J. Meeks, SG||29||5-9||1-1||1||0||0||14|
|E. Brand, PF||25||10-14||1-4||10||2||1||21|
|A. Iguodala, SG||22||3-3||0-0||2||3||0||7|
|S. Hawes, C||11||0-1||0-0||0||3||1||0|
|E. Turner, SG||34||6-12||4-4||10||8||2||16|
|T. Young, SF||22||5-9||0-0||4||1||3||10|
|L. Williams, SG||21||6-11||3-4||4||3||1||15|
|N. Vucevic, C||19||2-3||0-0||5||1||5||4|
|A. Nocioni, SF||9||0-3||3-4||0||0||1||3|
|T. Battie, PF||7||0-1||0-0||3||1||0||0|
|C. Brackins, PF||6||0-2||0-0||1||0||0||0|
|L. Allen, PF||5||2-2||1-2||0||0||0||5|
|Complete Box Score|