DALLAS (AP) — Dennis Schroder scored 28 points in his first game as the front man for Atlanta and the rebuilding Hawks spoiled rookie Dennis Smith Jr.’s solid Dallas debut, beating the Mavericks 117-111 in the opener Wednesday night.
Marco Belinelli, a familiar face for the Mavericks as a former rival with San Antonio, added 20 points and was 4 of 6 from 3-point range to help the Hawks in their first game after letting Paul Millsap leave in free agency and dumping Dwight Howard.
Smith scored his first NBA points on an alley-oop dunk to open the Dallas scoring and finished with 16 points and a game-high 10 assists.
Dirk Nowitzki scored 10 points on 4-of-14 shooting and the 39-year-old German joined Kobe Bryant (Lakers) as the only players to reach 20 seasons with the same franchise. He was on the bench in the back-and-forth closing minutes.
Dewayne Dedmon followed a miss by Schroder for a layup to put Atlanta up 113-111 with 58 seconds left. Taurean Prince rebounded a missed 3 from Belinelli with the shot clock off and made both free throws for a four-point lead.
Schroder, Nowitzki’s German countryman, was 13 of 26 from the field and led the Hawks with seven assists. All but three of his shots were inside the 3-point line.
The 19-year-old Smith, the ninth overall pick and Dallas’ most important draft choice since Nowitzki 19 years ago, wasn’t the only first-round rookie to play well. Atlanta’s John Collins, the 19th pick, scored 14 points.
Nerlens Noel matched Smith with 16 points, his most since coming to Dallas at the trading deadline last season, and had 11 rebounds. Wesley Matthews scored all of his 15 points in the second half.
Hawks: Prince had 10 points and 10 rebounds as the Hawks outrebounded the Mavericks 50-41. ... Schroder capped a 12-0 run late in the first half with a layup for a 56-45 lead, and the Hawks led by that margin at halftime.
Mavericks: G Seth Curry, Golden State star Stephen Curry’s younger brother, missed the opener with a stress fracture in his lower left leg. He’s out indefinitely. ... Smith asked out of the game and limped through the tunnel in the second quarter after landing awkwardly on his left leg when he was fouled on a dunk. He returned later in the quarter.
Hawks: At Charlotte on Friday night.
Mavericks: Sacramento at home Friday night in a “20-20” matchup: Vince Carter, Nowitzki’s former teammate, is also in his 20th season.