DALLAS — Behind a big second half from guard Monta Ellis, the Dallas Mavericks finally subdued the scrappy but ultimately undermanned Philadelphia 76ers, earning a 97-94 win Monday at American Airlines Center.
Philadelphia held the lead for nearly all of the first three quarters. However, Ellis had 13 points in the third quarter and finished with 24 points and 10 assists.
The Mavericks (7-4) improved to 5-0 at home ahead of a visit by the Southwest Division rival Houston Rockets and center Dwight Howard on Wednesday night. The Sixers, who again played without injured rookie point guard Michael Carter-Williams, fell to 5-7. They are 1-5 after a 4-2 start.
“It’s just the timing and the flow of the game,” Ellis said of his second-half explosion. “It was something that coach and my teammates look for me to make plays not only for myself but others and they put me in a great position so that’s what I tried to do.”
Ellis had just five points in the first half, taking just four shots. He got more involved and heated up in the third quarter as Dallas, which trailed by as many as 10 points on multiple occasions in the first half, tied the Sixers twice and cut the deficit to one five times in the third quarter. Finally, with 1:35 to go in the third, forward
Shawn Marion finished off a fast break with a dunk to give the Mavericks a 70-69 lead.
After a few more lead swaps, Dallas extended the margin to as many as nine points before the Sixers got to within 90-87 with 3:38 to go.
The Mavericks, despite 21 turnovers that resulted in 22 Sixers points, held on to win, and a big reason was Philadelphia’s poor shooting. The Sixers hit just 38.4 percent from the floor, going 6-for-21 from 3-point range (28.6 percent) and 12-for-22 from the free-throw line (54.5 percent).
Marion and forward Dirk Nowitzki each had 20 points for Dallas. Guard Jose Calderon, who knocked down a big 3-pointer to make it 93-87 with 3:08 to go, finished with 14 points.
“This was a survival-type game,” Mavs coach Rick Carlisle said. “We did what we had to do to win. It’s a difficult game as we knew it would be.”
Forward Evan Turner led the 76ers with 26 points, but he was held to five points in the fourth quarter. He added nine rebounds and seven assists. Guard Tony Wroten had 19 points, and guard James Anderson finished with 14.
Philadelphia forward Thaddeus Young had a rough night due to early foul trouble, and he started 2-for-12 from the field. He ended up with 10 points on 6-of-18 shooting.
“We missed a lot of free throws, and we missed a lot of layups,” Sixers coach Brett Brown said. “We didn’t help ourselves, but I was proud of our guys. I thought we battled and showed a lot to come back from arguably our worst performance in New Orleans (a 135-98 loss on Saturday).”
Philadelphia led the entire first half, using strong drives to the basket to shred the Dallas defense and score 26 of its 47 first-half points in the paint. Despite shooting just 39.3 percent from the floor, missing half of their eight free throws plus a sluggish close to the second quarter, the Sixers held onto a four-point lead at halftime.
“We don’t get to the line much and when we do have to make it count,” Turner said. “We played hard, obviously, but I think at the line we have to help ourselves a little bit.”
Nothing will come easy for a 76ers team most expect to lose far more games than they win this season, a fact that is working to motivate mostly young and journeyman-type players and bring them closer to their rookie head coach.
“The longer I spend time with these guys there’s a genuine side to them in relation to trying to do the right thing,” Brown said. “They want to do the right thing. They want to get better. They want to try to fix things that we all talked about and saw on video tape. And I attribute it to them trying to fix the things that were so poor in New Orleans. And I think this was one of our best — if not the best — defensive game we’ve played. And I give our guys credit, they came ready to play.”
Both teams were playing their third game in four nights and each looked like it in a sloppy and scoreless first couple of minutes. The Sixers led 8-0 before Dallas finally got on the board at the seven-minute mark.