Dallas, TX (SportsNetwork.com) - Monta Ellis made an immediate impression on his new fans in Dallas with a 32-point, eight-assist effort in his debut as the Mavericks upended the Atlanta Hawks 118-109 in the season opener Wednesday.
Dirk Nowitzki chipped in 24 points on 8-of-14 shooting for the Mavericks, who look to return to the postseason after missing the playoffs for the first time since 1999-2000.
Vince Carter dropped 21 points off the bench and Jose Calderon, who played big minutes with backup point guards Devin Harris and Shane Larkin on the shelf with injuries, handed out 11 assists.
"It was a good game," said Calderon. "The team fought for 48. I liked what I saw."
Jeff Teague paced Atlanta with 24 points and nine assists. Free-agent addition Paul Millsap netted 20 in his Hawks debut and Cartier Martin scored 17 points in under 17 minutes off the bench.
"You have to give Dallas a lot of credit tonight," said Hawks' new head coach Mike Budenholzer. "They played well through a lot of stretches and longer than ours. We played well at times, but give them credit for playing better longer."
Dallas used a big third quarter to pull away after trailing 55-53 at intermission. Ellis and Shawn Marion, who went scoreless in the first half, had 10 points apiece in the frame in which the Mavs hit 14-for-20 from the field.
"The way he (Ellis) played in the second half was fantastic," said Dallas coach Rick Carlisle. "The second half he really did a great job of distributing, scoring, attacking. He played a terrific game."
Nowitzki tied the game with a 19-footer on the opening possession of the second half. It stayed tight until an alley-oop from Calderon to Carter sparked a 12-0 surge. Wayne Ellington sank a triple late in the quarter for a 12-point edge.
Kyle Korver's jumper brought the Hawks to within three with 9:46 left in the fourth, but the former Finals MVP Nowitzki responded with a 3-pointer of his own on an assist from Israeli rookie Gal Mekel.
Not content with a nine-point lead late in the action, Nowitzki hit a pair of outside shots and Ellis drained one of his own on consecutive possessions to eliminate any thoughts of a Hawks' comeback.
The Mavericks jumped out to an early 10-point lead behind Ellis and Nowitzki, who combined for 16 of the first 20 points for the home team. Samuel Dalembert -- who averaged just 16.3 minutes per contest with Milwaukee a season ago -- had the other four.
Martin capped a 7-0 Atlanta run midway through the second quarter which tied the score at 47-47 with 4:44 remaining before the half. Neither team led by more than a basket after that, with Millsap's runner giving the Hawks a two- point halftime advantage.
Recently-hired Mavericks general manager, Gersson Rosas, who took the job on Aug. 1, resigned Tuesday ... The Mavericks have won five of seven against Atlanta ... Ellis had seven of Dallas' 20 turnovers and became the first Maverick to score at least 30 points in a season-opener since Nowitzki in 2009 ... Calderon registered his 500th steal in the first quarter ... Dallas outrebounded the Hawks, 42-33 ... Atlanta hosts Toronto in its home opener on Friday, while Dallas goes on the road to division rival Houston.