Ex-Bulls sharpshooter Kyle Korver extended his consecutive-games streak with a made three-pointer 103 contests in a row Saturday night at the United Center, his old stomping grounds.
Unfortunately for Korver, it came in a loss for his current team, the Hawks. The team-first player was reluctant to talk about the streak after the game, as it was clearly weighing on his mind.
“It’s something that I’d to reflect on when it’s done a little more, but I missed a lot of them tonight. I haven’t shot the ball well for a couple weeks, really. So it’s something I’ve got to figure out. But it’s nice to be a part of a record, for sure,” he said in a weary tone. “Everybody knows about it now and I think everyone’s always trying to break [end] it, which is fine. That’s what they’re supposed to do. But yeah, I don’t know what the reason is, but I definitely have not shot the ball well for a couple weeks now.”
Laid-back away from the game, Korver is a perfectionist when it comes to his craft, so it wasn’t surprising that he wasn’t in the best of spirits, especially considering his late three-pointer in the close-knit affair was waved off due to teammate DeMarre Carroll’s offensive foul on the same play.
“It takes away three points at the end of the game. It’s a big deal. It [the Bulls’ lead] went from four to seven,” he explained. “I should have shot it faster. I don’t know.”
But while he was disconsolate about Atlanta’s defeat, Korver talked at length about the respect he has for his former employer, at least Bulls head coach Tom Thibodeau and his ex-teammates who are still in Chicago, such as Luol Deng, Joakim Noah and Taj Gibson, particularly as they deal with another season-ending injury to Derrick Rose. Korver was with the Bulls when Rose suffered his season-ending ACL injury in 2012, which might make it easier for him to cope with current teammate Al Horford being sidelined for the remainder of the Hawks’ campaign with a torn pectoral muscle.
“I think the core of that team is so mentally tough. To keep going through—it’s just been a lot of drama and you’re playing in a major market, obviously losing Derrick, there’s a lot of talk around it all and there’s championship aspirations around this team with a healthy Derrick,” Korver explained. “We just lost Al [Horford] for the season and it’s a thing you’ve got to go through. You go from feeling you can compete to, ‘Okay, we have to totally change our game,’ and they’ve done this the past couple years, and they find ways and it hasn’t been just Derrick that’s been hurt. They’ve had a lot of guys out, so I just have so much respect for all those guys over there and how they just continue to play hard, and just grind and win games like tonight. They just find ways. It’s not the prettiest basketball at times, but you have a lot of respect for them.
“I have so much respect for the core of the Chicago Bulls the last few years. Just the way they approach practice, the way they approach games, the way they approach details, the way they play every day,” he went on to say. “When you’ve been part of that, like the blood, sweat and tears for a couple of years, it kind of carves a spot in your heart a little bit. So obviously Chicago is an incredible city to play basketball in. the Bulls uniform, there’s so much history to it. So I really appreciated my two years here. I’m glad to be a Hawk. I’m excited about where we’re headed, but for sure, that was a good two years here for me.”
Korver, who re-signed with Atlanta as a free agent over the summer, is pleased with the direction the Hawks, the third-place team in the East, albeit the NBA’s much weaker conference. Under first-year head coach Mike Budenholzer and with a collection of low-profile players, including forward Paul Millsap, whom Korver previously played with in Utah, the Hawks have forged an identity of perimeter shooting and unselfish ball movement.
“I didn’t have an expectation for as far as how good we would be. I thought we had a bunch of guys that would come in and play hard every day, and we would put in a style of basketball that was good basketball. Space the floor, early pick-and-roll, set screens, pass, shoot and I was excited about that. I thought we were really starting to click before Al got hurt. I thought we were really, really going somewhere,” Korver said. “So it’s kind of a bit of a blow. But we’ve had other guys step up. Pero’s stepped up and he’s been shooting the ball, and other guys have had chances to play. You guys know this story better than anybody. You’ve got to find ways to win, next man steps up, we have enough more than enough to win with. So we’ve got to take all that mentality over here.”
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Budenholzer clearly has an appreciation for Korver’s special talent.
“I think he just amazes us every day. The coaches, for sure, we all appreciate what he can do. His teammates appreciate what he can do and now, the attention he gets defensively and he still manages to get open, and make shots and make tough shots. His professionalism and his work ethic is just off the charts, and until you’re around somebody like that every day, I don’t think you can appreciate it from a distance. But now, I truly do,” the coach said. “He rarely takes a bad shot or a forced shot. He just continually moves and knows how to read screens, and knows how to get open. We need to get better at setting screens and getting him the ball, and using him. But he’s a very unique talent, his ability to move and rise up on his shots at full speed, and coming off of screens is unique. He’s very special.”
Teammate Jeff Teague chimed in about Korver’s streak: “It’s unreal, man, to be able to get it off. Everybody knows he’s going to shoot threes. That’s what he does and for him to still be able to get his shot off, it’s amazing. I feel like in the scouting report, that would be the only thing I’d focus on—don’t let Kyle Korver shoot threes—and time and time again, he makes one.”
Korver’s Bulls’ teammates still have fond memories of their days with the perimeter marksman.
“He’s a good dude. I wish him nothing but the best, of course, except when he plays us,” Noah said. “But he’s a hell of a player, he’s a competitor and some of the best times of my career were with Kyle Korver on this team, so I’ve got nothing but love for Kyle.”
Gibson added: “One thing about Kyle, he’s a pure shooter. I used to watch him in practice make 100 straight with his eyes closed, not even trying hard. But to see the elevation of his game is just great. He’s a leader, he’s a great teammate to play with. I always knew he would do something special like this and it’s good that he’s doing it, but it sucks that he’s doing it for the opposite team.”