Not that people in Chicago are unfamiliar with Kyle Korver’s outside marksmanship, but the former Bulls sharpshooter, now with the Hawks, is starting to enter uncharted territory.
Korver blew past Dana Barros’ record of 89 consecutive games with a made three-pointer and is now up 102 straight contests after Atlanta’s buzzer-beating loss Friday night to Golden State. Korver returns to the United Center for Saturday evening’s game against the Bulls, a team fully aware of the damage he can do from long range.
“It’s incredible what he’s done. I think it’s a testament to what he’s done, his professionalism, the way he takes care of himself. It’s incredible because everyone knows what he’s doing, you prepare for it, and he still finds ways to,” Bulls head coach Tom Thibodeau said. “He doesn’t take bad ones. He takes good shots. He shoots when he’s open and he passes when he’s guarded. That’s the mark of a winning player.”
When asked if he planned for his team to be the one to end Korver’s streak, Thibodeau’s answer was predictable.
“Well, I don’t like to give up three-pointers to anyone, so that’s the way we’re going to approach it,” he explained. “We know it’s one of their strengths as a team and it’s one of his strengths, so obviously you’ve got to get back, get set, keep the ball out of the paint, protect your basket and it requires you to make multiple effort. You’ve got to get out to his shot, you’ve got to have the ability to run him off his shot and then you have to do that without being undisciplined, where you’re just giving wide-open shots to other people. So it requires you to be very disciplined and have an awareness of where he is at all times, and he moves great without the ball. If you turn your head on him, he knows how to find an open area. He’s very clever.”
Bulls point guard Kirk Hinrich, while he didn’t cross paths with Korver in Chicago—Hinrich was in Washington and coincidentally, Atlanta, during Korver’s two-year Bulls’ tenure—was also complimentary of the Hawks swingman’s abilities.
“It’s impressive. He’s that type of shooter. I’m happy for him. He works hard. He’s obviously bounced around a little bit,” he said. “He shoots it great. He always has.”
Less renowned for his versatility, Korver has also worked hard to round out his all-around game. Thibodeau compared Korver, who is averaging 12.5 points, four rebounds, 2.7 assists and 1.1 steals per game this season, to Bulls wing Mike Dunleavy Jr., another player who doesn’t always get credit for his skills other than shooting.
“It’s the passing component. That’s where I think they’re really similar. Kyle’s release is a little different. Mike is comfortable putting it on the floor. I think their passing is very similar in a sense that when the second defender is there, they’re going to hit the open man and they also sense of how they’re guarded. They know where the open areas are and they’re going to make you pay. Their preparation is very similar as well,” the coach said. “Ideally, you want guys that are both good individual defenders and team defenders. You have to be one, and I think both of those guys excel on team defense.”