DALLAS -- The Sixers’ three-game road trip didn’t start well and ended just as poorly on Monday night.
With 3:44 to play at American Airlines Center, James Anderson connected on a three-pointer to bring the Sixers within three points.
That was followed by a missed eight-footer from Evan Turner on a drive to the rim. Off the Turner miss, Jose Calderon connected on one of his four made threes.
Turner then got called for a technical foul after arguing for a foul call. Dirk Nowitzki sank the technical free throw and Shawn Marion put in two-handed slam off a turnover on the next possession.
While brief, that 6-0 run the Sixers allowed was enough to suffer a 97-94 loss to the veteran Mavs and finish winless in three straight games on the road.
“We missed a lot of free throws and a lot of layups. We didn’t help ourselves,” Brett Brown said. “But I was proud of our guys. I thought we battled and it showed a lot to come back from arguably our worst performance in New Orleans, and we lost to a good team.”
The Sixers did battle back after their debacle in New Orleans and were right on the verge of salvaging a game on this road swing. However, they managed to get in their own way on several occasions, especially at the free throw line.
The Sixers missed 10 free throws in the game (12 of 22). Tony Wroten, despite playing strong again in replace of the injured Michael Carter-Williams, was a main culprit at the line. The guard scored 19 points, but he connected on just 3 of 9 attempts at the charity stripe.
“As hard as I try not to, it is in my head,” Wroten said of his free throw struggles. “I work so hard and they trust me to make free throws. But missing six free throws is unacceptable.”
Wroten is shooting 60.5 percent from the free throw line this season. He shot just 58 percent on freebies during his one year at Washington. It is an obvious area of weakness for a player that has shown so much potential.
“There is a tenacity and a competitiveness and a toughness that you just can’t help but like,” Brown said of Wroten. “He gets to the rim. There’s no back down in him and he shows a lot of competitive qualities for being so young.
“We miss a great young point guard in Michael Carter-Williams and Tony has taken those minutes and the opportunity and done a heck of a job.”
The Mavs were in position to close out the game thanks to Nowitzki’s play during the early going.
After both teams failed to score a point in the game’s first 3:50, the Sixers opened up a quick eight-point advantage to take control. With the rest of his Mavs teammates still struggling, Nowitzki started finding his rhythm. At one point, the former MVP was 5 of 7 while the rest of the team was 5 for 18.
Nowitzki scored his final field goal of the game with 5:11 to play in the third quarter before finishing with 20 points and 10 rebounds. He did other things down the stretch and the rest of the Dallas roster picked up the scoring slack to secure the win.
“You are always wondering if you should use a timeout and address it. It is just that constant onslaught that they can do with that group of players that they have,” Brown said.
Despite the loss, the Sixers' defensive effort was much improved from their 37-point defeat to the Pelicans on Saturday. They limited the Mavs to just 26 points in the paint and held them to 9 of 29 from long range.
“I think it was an all-out effort thing,” said Thaddeus Young, who had a double-double with 10 points and 11 rebounds. “There was a lot of effort. We put out fires with guys scrambling and rotating. If we keep doing that we’ll be fine."
“I know we played super hard and we just competed,” said Turner, who led the Sixers with 26 points.
The Sixers will look to snap their three-game losing streak when they return home on Wednesday night to face the Toronto Raptors.