Although Allen Iverson's two free throws with 17.1 seconds left were the difference in a 101-100 victory, Theo Ratliff's season-high 25 points and George Lynch's basket over 7-foot-6 Shawn Bradley were pivotal, too.
"Theo was demanding the ball and we had to get it to him the way he was putting it in the hole," 76ers guard Aaron McKie said.
Steve Nash put Dallas up by one with a technical free throw off an illegal defense, but Lynch answered with a short jumper over Bradley. The basket gave the 76ers a 99-98 lead, their first since midway through the third quarter.
"I went to the basket strong and shielded him off with my body," said Lynch, who is eight inches shorter than Bradley.
New All-Star Michael Finley answered with a jumper at 28.4 seconds and appeared to be the hero again for Dallas when he snagged a rebound of Iverson's miss.
But officials said Cedric Ceballos fouled Iverson on the play and the league's leading scorer swished his first free throw and bounced the second in off the front rim.
Finley had the ball on Dallas' last possession, but he gave it up to Dirk Nowitzki. As two defenders ran at him, he dumped the ball to Steve Nash, who didn't seem to be expecting it. His ugly lob that bounced off the rim at the buzzer reflected that.
"I was wide open, but I didn't really have time to set up," Nash said. "I just wanted to put it up to the rim and see if it fell."
A smiling Iverson ran off the court and hugged coach Larry Brown, who moved into sole possession of 10th place on the career victory list with 708.
On the other end of the floor, the Mavericks who ended a four-game winning streak were still upset about the foul called on Ceballos. Finley walked slowly to the scorer's table and gave it a loud whack with his fist.
"He's a superstar and you're going to get those calls," Ceballos said.
The 76ers returned to their winning ways in close games, improving to 11-3 in games decided by three or less. Their previous two games were losses by three and two points.
"I don't like to lose one in a row, much less three," Iverson said. "I don't want to get that losing mentality."
Dallas surprisingly has escaped that mode, having won seven of nine before this one. The loss snapped a four-game winning streak.
But the Mavericks won't go very far if they continue to get outrebounded 54-39 and allow teams to make 51 percent of their shots as the 76ers did. For all the headaches he causes, Rodman can help turn those numbers around.
Rodman arrived in Dallas late Tuesday, but he was not at Reunion Arena. He could decide Wednesday whether to sign with his hometown team.
Ceballos led the Mavericks with 26 points and 12 rebounds. Finley had 21 points and Bradley added 17.
"The All-Star stuff is secondary," Finley said. "My whole agenda is to win games. Tonight is a game we should've won and didn't."
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