PHILADELPHIA, Oct. 9 (AP) -- Larry Brown didn't want to stick around to see the end of this one -- or talk about it.

Dikembe Mutombo loses control of the rock on the inside.
AP Photos
Dirk Nowitzki scored 16 points and Tim Hardaway added 13, leading the Dallas Mavericks to a 96-87 victory over the Philadelphia 76ers on Tuesday night in the preseason opener for both teams.

The defending Eastern Conference champion Sixers were without four regulars, including NBA MVP Allen Iverson and Aaron McKie, the league's Sixth Man of the Year. Point guard Eric Snow and forward George Lynch also sat out.

Brown was ejected with 4:41 left after forward Michael Smith was ejected for a flagrant foul on Mavericks center Shawn Bradley.

"Coach is somebody that is always going to stick up for his players whether it's Allen Iverson or Michael Smith, a guy trying to make the team," said assistant coach John Kuester, who spoke to reporters after the game in place of Brown.

Matt Harpring, playing his first game with the Sixers, and Raja Bell each had 21.

Dallas built a 44-17 lead midway through the second following a 12-0 run that covered 6:17.

But the Sixers came back in the third behind Bell's strong shooting.

Bell hit three 3-pointers in the third, including one that cut it to 61-58 with 3:21 left in the quarter. He nailed another 3-pointer in the fourth as the Sixers closed within 77-74 with 5:46 left.

But Bradley scored on a slam, and Steve Nash made four free throws to give Dallas an 83-74 lead.

Philadelphia didn't get closer than six the rest of the way.

"The big start really helped us because we were terrible in the second half," Nash said.

Robert Traylor, who came to Philadelphia with Harpring in the deal that sent Tyrone Hill to Cleveland, had 14 points and 10 rebounds.

Speedy Claxton, playing his first game since going down with a season-ending knee injury last preseason, had 13 points and 10 assists. Dikembe Mutombo was 0-for-5 in 23 minutes.

"We played hard," Claxton said. "It's a big adjustment. We know what the other guys can do. We're trying to get some chemistry with the new guys."

Nash and Michael Finley each had 12 points, and Juwan Howard had 10 points and 10 rebounds for Dallas.

"We're just trying out different combinations, trying to blend the veterans with the young guys," Mavericks coach Don Nelson said.

Both Iverson and McKie had surgery on Sept. 25. Iverson had an arthroscopic procedure on his right elbow, but probably will be ready for the season opener at Minnesota on Oct. 30.

McKie had a similar procedure on his right shoulder. He could start the season on the injured list.

Snow is recovering from an offseason operation on his right ankle, and Lynch is returning from a left foot injury.

"You're looking at four integral pieces missing," Kuester said. "The thing I know Coach is pleased with is the young guys played so hard."