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Monday, February 3, 2014
Opening Tip: Give Holger assist for Dirk's hot streak

By Tim MacMahon

DALLAS -- It’d be a stretch to give Holger Geschwindner the credit for Dirk Nowitzki’s hottest streak of the season.

After all, it started the night before Nowitzki’s longtime mentor arrived in Dallas from Germany, with the Mavericks star scoring 28 points on 10-of-16 shooting against the Detroit Pistons to begin the four-game homestand that ends Monday night against the Cleveland Cavaliers. But Geschwinder’s presence and the supervised extra shooting practice has certainly helped the big German stay hot.

 Dirk Nowitzki
Since Holger Geschwindner landed in Dallas on Tuesday, Dirk Nowitzki has put together his first two back-to-back 30-plus-point performances since April 2012.
Geschwindner, who helped transform Nowitzki from a gangly teenager into the best European player in NBA history, no longer puts his pupil through grueling conditioning sessions. They dropped the sprints, leapfrogs and Eastern bloc training methods from the midseason workouts about five years ago, understanding that Nowitzki needed to save his legs for games as he got older.

The Holger workouts now are essentially fine-tuning sessions for the sweetest jump-shooting 7-footer in NBA history.

“More just technique stuff. Sometimes just not even moving much,” Nowitzki said. “Stand there and shoot some 3s, shoot some pull-ups, shoot some turnarounds.

“When he’s not here so long, sometimes little mistakes creep in that I just don’t really or can’t really correct myself. Small little hints. It might be, ‘Just get the ball up a little higher. Watch your fingers.’ Small little stuff creeps in, so that’s why he’s always good when he comes over.”

Since Geschwindner landed in Dallas on Tuesday, Nowitzki has put together his first two back-to-back 30-plus-point performances since April 2012. He lit it up for 38 points in Wednesday night’s loss to the Houston Rockets and followed that up with 34 points in Friday’s win over the Sacramento Kings.

The Holger visits always happen twice during the regular season and again in the playoffs. The routine they’ve kept throughout Nowitzki’s 16-year career has been Geschwindner staying for a couple of weeks early in the season and coming back for a couple of weeks around the All-Star break.

After seeing Nowitzki struggle on the Mavs’ last road trip, when he averaged only 17.5 points on 39.4 percent shooting in two games and sat out another one to get some rest, Geschwindner decided to move up his midseason trip a bit.

“He surprised me,” said Nowitzki, who is averaging 33.3 points on 60.7 percent shooting during this homestand. “He kind of showed up out of nowhere.”

There is a comfort level that comes with the workouts under the supervision of a mentor Nowitzki has known most of his life. There’s also a psychological effect, although not nearly as big as it used to be.

“Way better when I was younger,” Nowitzki said. “Sometimes he made me feel a lot more confident. Now, I think in games I can do better adjustments now than I could 10-12 years ago. If I have a bad shooting first half, I think I can adjust a little better with experience now than I did 10 years ago, but it’s still good to always have him, get some shots up and get in that old routine I’ve been doing my whole career.”

It’s hard to argue with the results.