DALLAS -- The Dallas Mavericks did some juggling Monday night and it almost cost them.
For the first time this season, the Mavs went to a different lineup than the one they used during the first 10 games this year. But it almost backfired as the Mavs had to struggle mightily before settling for a 97-94 victory over the pesky Philadelphia 76ers at American Airlines Center.
In winning the opener of a three-game home stand, the Mavs (7-4) will now host the Houston Rockets on Wednesday.
With their 478th straight sellout cheering them on, the Mavs had to get down and dirty in order to keep the young Sixers at bay. The Mavs didn't take their first lead of the game until Shawn Marion's dunk gave them a 70-69 lead with 1:41 remaining in the third period.
And it was Marion's fast break dunk with 2:08 left which gave the Mavs a 96-87 cushion.
The Mavs started Jae Crowder for the first time this season in place of Samuel Dalembert, and Crowder finished with just two points on 1-of-8 shooting. Meanwhile, Dalembert contributed eight points, a season-high 14 rebounds and three blocks.
Monta Ellis shook off a slow start to collect 24 points on 7-of-14 shooting, and he also distributed 10 assists. Ellis, who leads with the Mavs with 21.9 points per game, played 11 minutes in the first quarter and didn't get off a shot.
But Ellis more than made up for it in the third quarter when he tallied 13 of the Mavs' 31 points as Dallas toted a 74-71 lead into the fourth quarter.
Besides Ellis, the Mavs got 20 points and 10 rebounds from Dirk Nowitzki, 20 points and seven boards from Marion and 14 points from Jose Calderon.
Evan Turner led the Sixers with 26 points, Tony Wroten scored 19 points and James Anderson had 14 points and seven rebounds.
Rookie Shane Larkin played his first game of the season for the Mavs and was effective. Larkin broke his right ankle on July 5, underwent surgery on July 16 and had two assists and two steals in five first-half minutes before finishing with three points, three assists and two steals in nine minutes.
The Mavs turned the ball over 21 times leading to 22 points for the Sixers. Dallas also shot just 43.6 percent from the field while holding the Sixers to 38.4 percent shooting.
-- Dwain Price
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