DALLAS -- Monta Ellis made his debut in a Dallas uniform a memorable one, leading the Mavericks to a 118-109 victory over the Atlanta Hawks on Wednesday night in the season opener for both teams at American Airlines Center.
The Mavericks signed Ellis to ease the scoring burden on former MVP Dirk Nowitzki, and at least after one game, the move is paying off. Ellis scored 32 points on 11-of-17 shooting and added eight assists. Nowitzki had 24 points.
Jose Calderon, the other new starter in Dallas' backcourt, dished out 11 assists, Vince Carter chipped in 21 points off the bench, and Samuel Dalembert grabbed a game-high nine rebounds. The Mavericks shot 57 percent as a team.
"We were really moving the ball and finding the open guy," said Nowitzki, who made four 3-pointers. "Monta is sensational in those pick-and-rolls, coming off looking aggressive to score, or if he doesn't have it, he's finding the open shooters, and that was fantastic."
It was a turnaround for Ellis, who struggled as the preseason closed.
"I fed off the energy of the crowd and my teammates," he said. "The whole preseason was challenging for me, but at the same time it was a learning experience and my teammates kept me up. I came out today and wanted to play aggressive and play my game, and hopefully we get a win and we did."
Jeff Teague paced the Hawks with 24 points and nine assists, but he was held in check as the second half wore on. Paul Millsap scored 20, reserve Cartier Martin tallied 17 and DeMarre Carroll had 14. Atlanta was outrebounded 42-33 in Mike Budenholzer's first game as head coach.
"We played hard and we competed," Teague said. "We all are getting used to each other right now. We are getting better. It's only the first game, and we have a long season."
The lead went back and forth for most of the third quarter before the Mavericks reeled off a 12-0 run to go into the fourth up 86-79. Dallas kept a comfortable advantage for much of the fourth on its way to the win.
"Our shot-making was there at critical times and we were able to get a little bit of a cushion when we were getting stops and moving the ball on offense," Dallas coach Rick Carlisle said.
Though it was just one game, the Mavericks are looking to set a tone and return to the postseason after 12-year playoff run was snapped last year.
The Hawks have a six-season playoff streak, tied for the longest run in the Eastern Conference. There is work ahead if that streak is to continue.
"We are going to make mistakes," Millsap said. "It is the first game of the year. The most important thing is to learn from them and continue to get better from it."
Down most of the first half, the Hawks surged in the second quarter to take a 55-53 lead into the break. Teague had 13 points and seven assists at the half, with Millsap scoring 12 points.
Dallas cooled off from the floor considerably in the second period. Ellis, Nowitzki and Carter each had double-digit points in the opening half.
Atlanta's home opener is Friday against the Toronto Raptors, while the Mavericks are on the road the same night against the Houston Rockets.
NOTES: Mavericks general manager Gersson Rosas resigned Tuesday, less than three months after taking the job. "I made the personal decision to resign as general manager of the Dallas Mavericks after determining that the position was not the best fit for me at this point in my career," said Rosas, adding the decision was solely his. "I was disappointed when Gersson told me of his decision, but I understand and all of us wish him the best," owner Mark Cuban said. ... The Hawks have just two players -- C Al Horford and Teague -- who were with the team two seasons ago. ... Longtime Spurs assistant Budenholzer made his NBA head coaching debut for Atlanta. Carlisle is the second-longest tenured coach with one team, trailing only San Antonio's Gregg Popovich. ... Dallas has 10 new players on the roster, including starters Ellis, Calderon and Dalembert.