Sharpshooter Korver emerges as clutch performer

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Sharpshooter Korver emerges as clutch performer

Saturday, April 23, 2011
Posted: 12:10 p.m.

By Aggrey Sam
CSNChicago.com
INDIANAPOLISAll season long, pundits and even opponents have maligned the Bulls lack of balanced scoring and outside shooting. Those people underestimated the value of Kyle Korver.

Ideally, the Bulls would have more options than Korveralthough Derrick Rose and Luol Deng are much-improved long-distance threats, and fellow starter Keith Bogans is also capable of hitting from deepbut when a team has one of the truly elite shooters in the league on its side, it provides a unique weapon. Moreover, not only is Korver potent from behind the arc, hes emerged as a major complement to Rose in the clutch, as evidenced by his body of work in the fourth quarter against the Pacers thus far.

Im just trying to take shots that are there. In the playoffs, the sets that we run, they work less and less because you run the same sets every game, they go over it in practice every day and youve got to have guys that can just break you down and play. Weve got the best one in the world in Derrick, so when theyre worried about him, thats when we have to really step up, move to the open spot, find the open seam and I just try to be one of those guys, said Korver. Youve just got to try to be ready. The type of player that I am, Ive been in that situation a lot in my basketball career on every level. Its one of those things. You just try to be ready. You cant get caught up in it. Youve got to know time and score, but you cant get caught up in, This is the big shot. I think its just over time and experience, you just kind of learn how to do those things.

You just try to play smart. You dont want to force the issue, but Ive always said: Im not the fastest guy in the world, but youre going to get tired before I do, he continued, laughing. I just keep on going and eventually, somebodys going to turn their head and just try to be ready.

Korver has developed a special chemistry with Rose, the ultimate drive-and-kick point guard. Their partnership has burgeoned to the point where the pair often confer during breaks in the action to strategize.

Hes helping us out a lot, shooting the ball when hes supposed to. I always tell him, when hes got an open look, shoot it because his chances are way greater than ours, Rose revealed. Hes a great teammate, comes to you, tells you how theyre playing you, how the game is.

Its great when you have a teammate come to you. As a point guard, youre going to miss some thingsyoure not going to see everythingand just telling me how they were playing him. Thats why, towards the end of Thursdays Game 3, I just kept going to him because Collison was on him. Korver has a great release on his shot, jumps pretty high and can get his shot off on him.

Korver struggled to find his rhythm at various junctures of the season, in part to adjusting to a new system and raising his defense to a level that earned Bulls head coach Tom Thibodeaus trust. He bought in from the start of the campaign, but now even downplays his own contributions because of his belief in the system.

If our defense is really on, we dont need to score 120 points to win. We scored in the 80s Thursday and we won. Weve done that a lot this year, said Korver. Shooting comes and goes, defense is what keeps you consistent throughout the year and obviously Thibs preaches that all the time, and I think because of that, were able to be in a game like Thursday. If we dont play the defense in Game 3, we probably lose.

Not without his 10 fourth-quarter points, torrid marksmanship and continued coolness under pressure.

Aggrey Sam is CSNChicago.com's Bulls Insider. Follow him @CSNBullsInsider on Twitter for up-to-the-minute Bulls information and his take on the team, the NBA and much more.

Bulls supportive of Robin Lopez after one-game suspension following Serge Ibaka scrap

Bulls supportive of Robin Lopez after one-game suspension following Serge Ibaka scrap

Although the punches didn't connect, the NBA was not going to take the Robin Lopez-Serge Ibaka confrontation lightly, suspending each one game Wednesday afternoon.

Lopez served his time in the Bulls' surprising 117-95 win over the Detroit Pistons at the United Center. Per league rules, Lopez was not allowed on team property but he did speak to head coach Fred Hoiberg when the team returned from Toronto after the Bulls' heartbreaking overtime loss Tuesday.

Lopez will return to the Bulls lineup Friday against the Philadelphia 76ers, a relief to the Bulls considering the league could've taken a harsher stance with Lopez — a two- or three-game suspension was being mulled at the league office, sources tell CSNChicago.com

Lopez was pushed into Ibaka after Jimmy Butler hit a three in the second half, and the two combatants squared off underneath the rim, with officials, teammates and coaches trying to separate them.

Ibaka appeared to have his arm reaching at Lopez's neck, prompting Lopez to swing at Ibaka. He missed, and Ibaka grazed Lopez's face with a wild swing of his own.

Both were ejected after being separated and shortly thereafter, the Raptors begun their run from being down 15 points to end the Bulls' recent mastery over them.

Despite the effect, Lopez had the full support of his teammates and coaching staff.

"I think you ask anybody in that locker room, Robin Lopez is one of the most if not the most popular guy on this team," Hoiberg said. "He's a guy that goes out and approaches his job the same way every day. He goes to work. He never complains. He does what's asked of him. Also if you asked them, they'd tell you he's as passionate of a guy as we have on this team as well. He's got a fire to him that you just don't ever want to take away."

That fire clearly got underneath Lopez and Ibaka, causing Lopez to lunge at Ibaka. Telling from the immediate reaction from the Bulls players and from Hoiberg and associate coach Jim Boylen, it seems as if it wasn't the first time Lopez's engine ran a little hot.

"This game gets very competitive obviously, it gets heated at times," Hoiberg said. "That happened last night. It's unfortunate what went down, but we've all got Robin's back. I think everybody in this organization, from the players all the way to up top, has Robin's back. We'll deal with it and move on. We'll be happy to have him in the lineup Friday."

Lopez averages 10.3 points and 6.5 rebounds in 27.9 minutes per game, slightly higher than his career averages through his nine NBA seasons.

Considering the play seemed relatively tame, it was slightly puzzling to see both players go at each other so ferociously but there appeared to be more to the story than first blush.

"There's always more going on than it appears," Hoiberg said. "You go back and watch on film, there's little jabs that happen in the course of the game and sometimes it reaches the boiling point. Robin is a guy that plays this game with a lot of passion, and you don't ever want to see something like that happen, but it did. And again, you move on."

Normally, Lopez attacks mascots during timeouts or pregame warm-ups, so nobody felt Lopez was looking for an altercation, and considering it only cost him a game — one the Bulls won anyways — Hoiberg didn't seem too stressed about it beforehand.

"Yeah, you know, Robin's going to have our guys' backs as much as anybody in the locker room," Hoiberg said. "Again, you look in that locker room, all those guys are going to have each other's back, Robin as much as anybody. Unfortunately, it happened. It looked like it was a little hip check, they turned around and got squared off, and we all know what happened. Again, we'll all be excited to have Robin back in the lineup on Friday."

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