Korver’s persistence paying off from the perimeter


Jan 18

The month of January hadn’t been kind for the normally sharpshooting Kyle Korver, but in hitting the game-winning three against the Heat on Saturday, things may have turned around for the time being.

Korver parlayed the momentum from the Miami win into Monday’s game in Memphis, where he torched the nets for a season-high 22 points, including 6 of 10 from long distance.

“When it rains, it pours, I guess,” said Korver on Tuesday. “It was a pretty frustrating month, but you stick with it. [In Memphis], I got some really good looks. I hadn’t gotten that many open looks in awhile. I’ve been putting in a lot of time shooting extra shots and it was a good night.”

Somewhat ironically, Korver credited Derrick Rose for helping him regain his stroke. That’s because with Carlos Boozer sidelined, the Grizzlies’ defense focused in on Rose. But it didn’t go so well for Memphis, as Rose recorded his first NBA triple-double with 22 points, 12 assists and 10 rebounds.

“You wish those nights happened more often,” said Korver. “Those are fun. But I wasn’t doing anything special. They were really focused on Derrick and I was able to slide into the open spot.

“Guys like that help me out a ton,” continued Korver of Rose. “I’ve never been a big one-on-one guy, so I feel like guys like me and guys like Derrick play well together. He needs guys like me to give him some space, and I need space from guys like him. It’s been a really good fit.”

Coach Tom Thibodeau said he never lost faith in Korver, as whether or not his shots are falling, he helps the Bulls when he’s on the floor.

“In the last couple weeks, he’s had a number of shots go in and out for him,” said Thibodeau. “That being said, he still helps us a lot. People don’t come off Kyle, so it creates space for us. When you create space, it gives Derrick more driving gaps and Carlos [Boozer] more room in the post when he’s playing. So he helps us regardless of whether the ball is going in.

“When he comes off of screens, they double team him and he’s a very willing passer,” added Thibodeau. “I think he’s made great strides with his defense. He works so hard all the time.”

In what’s become a recurring theme, different players have managed to shoulder a heavier burden at various times through this season for Chicago, whether it was Taj Gibson filling in for Boozer to start the year, or Kurt Thomas currently holding down the fort at center in Joakim Noah’s absence. Thibodeau says it’s a statement about how valuable the Bulls’ reserves are to the team’s success.

“I’ve said all along that I like the quality of our bench,” said Thibodeau. “When one guy is out, the next guy steps up and he gets the job done. We have a deep team. We don’t change the way we play—whoever is playing, we feel that we’re capable.”

Bulls vs. Bobcats season notes

In last season’s regular-season finale, Chicago defeated Chicago 98-89 to finish 41-41 and secure the eighth and final playoff spot in the East … Chicago is 9-2 all time against Charlotte in the Windy City and 6-5 versus the Bobcats in Charlotte … Chicago won last year’s season series 3-1, with the Chicago taking both games at the UC and splitting two games on the road … Derrick Rose posted 26 points, five assists and four boards, while Joakim Noah recorded a double-double with 11 points and 16 boards in their last meeting (04/03) at the UC … in 2008-09, Chicago lost the season series to the Bobcats 2-1 … Chicago’s lone victory came at the United Center on April 15, 113-106 … last season in their four meetings Chicago outscored Charlotte 98.8 to 95.0 and outshot the Bobcats .484 to .431 … since their inaugural season in 2004-05, Chicago holds an overall record of 15-7 against the Bobcats … the Bulls are 1-1 in overtime games versus Charlotte.

Audio—Bulls Coach Tom Thibodeau’s pregame comments (01.18.11):

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