SACRAMENTO, Calif. - Previously without direction, the 76ers appeared to be on course in Monday night's 104-93 victory over the Portland Trail Blazers.
The players steering the way were the team's two oldest: point guard Allen Iverson, 34, and reserve power forward Elton Brand, 30.
Iverson and Brand combined for 44 points and 13 rebounds. The game was Iverson's first after he missed four because of an arthritic left knee. Brand, coming off the bench for the sixth time this season, scored 25 points in 29 minutes, 56 seconds.
The victory was the team's second this season against an opponent with a winning record. On Dec. 18, the Sixers defeated Boston on the Celtics' home floor, but they lost their next two games - at home against the Los Angeles Clippers and on the road against Washington.
"We just need to use this as a springboard," Brand said after Monday night's win. "That Boston game was a great game for us, then we lose the shot at the buzzer that could have gone our way against the Clippers, then we lose a nine-point lead against Washington going into the fourth quarter. We need to give the effort defensively and use this as a springboard to keep winning."
The Sixers will try to keep winning tonight against the Sacramento Kings at Arco Arena. Sacramento is 14-16 and 11-5 at home; last season, the Kings won a total of 17 games.
Tip-off is scheduled for 10 p.m.
The Kings are led by rookie guard Tyreke Evans, the fourth pick in the 2009 draft. Evans is a native of Chester and a graduate of American Christian Academy. Through the season's first 30 games, he is the leading contender for rookie-of-the-year honors, averaging 20.3 points, 5.1 rebounds, and 4.9 assists a game.
On Monday night, Evans missed Sacramento's game against Denver with a sore right ankle, but he is expected to play tonight.
The Sixers will try to put together back-to-back wins for the first time since Oct. 31, when they beat the New York Knicks a night after defeating Milwaukee.
In the fourth quarter Monday night, Iverson scored nine points on 3-for-3 shooting from the field; Brand scored four on 2-for-3 shooting.
Afterward, Iverson, who finished with 19 points, said he hoped to continue providing his teammates with a presence at the end of games.
He said he wanted to "just give them the added confidence" and get them to "believe that we can win basketball games regardless of the situation."
"I've been through a lot of wars in my career and I've won a lot of games," he said, and wanted "just to share the experience that I've had with them, and just to stay as positive as I can with these guys and keep them positive.
"We're a young team, and a lot of times when things aren't going right, people start pointing fingers and turn a positive thing into something negative."
Sixers coach Eddie Jordan said both Brand and Iverson keyed Monday night's victory.
Brand "was talking," leading the team "in the huddles and on the floor," Jordan said. "He was assertive and Allen was assertive, and everyone else pretty much followed."
Green day-to-day. The Sixers practiced yesterday at Arco Arena. Guard Willie Green, who did not play Monday night after suffering a sprained left ankle in Saturday's loss to Utah, went through noncontact drills and did light shooting.
Road-tripping. The Sixers' Western trip, which began Dec. 26 at Utah, includes tomorrow night's game against the Clippers. The trip concludes Jan. 3, in Denver.