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updated: 4/20/2011 12:13 AM

How Korver found his clutch touch

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  • Chicago Bulls' Kyle Korver (26) celebrates with Carlos Boozer(5) after scoring a three-point basket during the fourth quarter against the Indiana Pacers in Game 2 of a first-round NBA playoff basketball series Monday in Chicago. The Bulls won 96-90.

      Chicago Bulls' Kyle Korver (26) celebrates with Carlos Boozer(5) after scoring a three-point basket during the fourth quarter against the Indiana Pacers in Game 2 of a first-round NBA playoff basketball series Monday in Chicago. The Bulls won 96-90.
    Associated Press

 
 

Becoming a great shooter in basketball takes hours and hours of repetition, and it's not easy to stay on task.

Kyle Korver can make a case for being the NBA's best clutch long-range shooter. He led the league in 3-point baskets in the fourth quarter during the regular season, according to Stats, Inc.

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So far against Indiana, he's 5-for-5 from long range, with a late 3-point basket in each game to help seal victories. All this makes Korver a perfect complement to Derrick Rose, who can draw defenders as well as anyone in the game.

"It's just God's gift the way he shoots the ball," Rose said of Korver. "He works on his shot, of course, but he's just got a touch that nobody else has got."

Korver played plenty of basketball growing up, first in Los Angeles, then in Pella, Iowa. By his estimate, he became a quality shooter around age 17.

"I had a lot of people trying to show me form and technique," Korver said. "I had helicopter spin. I had Joakim Noah spin until my junior year in high school. Then I think, eventually, I found what worked for me and I got physically strong enough to shoot the ball correctly."

Korver honed his skills on a backyard court in Iowa. With a bunch of basketball players in a family of four boys, the Korvers poured a cement court and invested in a quality outdoor hoop. Maybe it was more "Field of Dreams" than "Hoosiers," but Korver was able to find the right balance of technique and repetition.

"Growing up, you read the books and you hear the stories and the legends of the Steve Alfords and all these guys that made a thousand shots a day," he said. "I went through a stretch where I charted it all and it didn't last very long because it wasn't fun anymore.

"I have so many parents that come to me now. 'What kind of drills do you do? I want to show my kid how to shoot and teach him all this.' If you want to really get good at basketball, you have to love the game, because you spend so much time playing, so much time practicing."

One of the first lessons that paid off for Korver was practicing for the way he'd play in games.

"All the teams I've been on, early on you find out where your shots are going to be," he said. "Then I shoot those shots and I pretend in my mind game situations. When you're seeing that, you're naturally going harder and it feels more fun.

"There are a lot of great drills that can teach technique and things that probably need to be done at some point in time. But I've never been like, 'OK, today I'm going to shoot 500 threes. I'm going to make 400 curl shots.' It doesn't feel fun to me. I'm still going to shoot that many shots, but I don't really know. I'm going to shoot until I find that rhythm, where I feel like, 'OK, I'm in a zone. I'm good.'"

Korver had one of the all-time great 3-point shooting seasons at Creighton during his senior year, when he knocked down 48 percent of 269 attempts. Last season with Utah, he set an NBA record for highest 3-point percentage in a season at .536.

Like former Bulls sharpshooter Steve Kerr, Korver gets his shot off quickly. At 6-foot-7, Korver can shoot over some defenders, which is another advantage. He takes pride in knocking down the important shots late in games, which he's done twice against the Pacers.

"Everyone gets nervous," he said. "But I found there are definitely little tricks to help yourself be better in those situations. Obviously, you need to know the time and score. But once you know it, that's not your focus anymore. I'm really thinking about the actual shot, seeing the ball come to you before it comes to you. You think about those things instead of, 'We're down 3 and there's only 10 seconds left,' or whatever it is."

One thought that can stay in his mind is sooner or later, Rose will draw at least three defenders. That's why Korver is always ready for the big shot to come his way.

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