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Utah Jazz: Shooting in sharp focus as preseason games begin

Published October 8, 2012 12:39 pm

NBA • Utah's offseason moves addressed weakness.
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2012, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

Oakland, Calif. • Gordon Hayward shot confidently from the outside, and his teammates followed suit. Kevin Murphy, Alec Burks, Randy Foye, even Trey Gilder, they all fired at will.

It was the kind of perimeter shooting performance Jazz fans could only dream about last season.

Too bad no official statistics were kept in Saturday's intrasquad scrimmage. But the Jazz hope their offseason moves have shored up their most glaring hole from last year, when they ranked 27th in the NBA in 3-point shooting percentage and 29th in attempts.

Former general manager Kevin O'Connor and, his replacement, Dennis Lindsey, targeted shooters in their offseason moves.

"[Outside] shooting is one thing we struggled with last year and they fixed that problem," center Al Jefferson said.

Starting with Monday's preseason opener at Golden State, the Jazz will have the opportunity to demonstrate that their offseason acquisitions and effort paid off beyond a relaxed scrimmage, where the Jazz were certainly impressive from beyond the 3-point line.

The Jazz upgraded their shooting at three positions, acquiring point guard Mo Williams, combo guard Randy Foye and small forward Marvin Williams, who last year shot an average 38.8 percent on 3-pointers.

"These guys have a history in the league," coach Tyrone Corbin said. "So you know what they were with somebody else, and you have an idea what they will be with us and our group."

Murphy was drafted out of Tennessee Tech in the second round, and players including Hayward spent the offseason working to improve from the outside.

However, Hayward said the key to improving may be confidence and opportunity.

"I think a lot of that has to do with us stepping up and shooting those shots," Hayward said. "So it's just going to rely on us getting those shots up. Last year I don't think we shot as many as we should."

Perhaps the biggest addition the Jazz made to bolster outside shooting was free agent pickup Randy Foye, who made 129 3-point shots last year with the Clippers.

Foye spent much of his second year in the NBA injured and said he spent that time working on his outside shot.

"You look at the league, and people last when they can really shoot the ball," he said. "Slashing goes away, all that stuff goes away. Being able to jump, dunk, being really explosive. But if you can shoot you can always play."

It's his most marketable skill, but the Jazz became his fourth team in seven seasons. Foye said he doesn't feel any pressure to carry the Jazz's perimeter shooting responsibilities.

"With all the work you've put in, everything else will take care of itself," he said. "You can't worry and say, 'I'm going to take shots because this is what the Jazz need.' Nah, you can't think like that."

The Jazz's whole strategy is that he won't have to.

"We have some good shooters on the team," Hayward said. "So as long as we get ourselves good open looks [and] we shoot them with confidence, it should be one of our strengths."

Steve Luhm contributed to this report. —

Jazz honedon their range

• After ranking 27th in the NBA in 3-point shooting, at 32.3 percent, the Jazz acquired three veterans who averaged 38.8 percent in 2011-12 season.

• Mo Williams, Marvin Williams and Randy Foye all shot a higher 3-point percentage than any Jazz player except Raja Bell. —

Utah Jazz at Golden State Warriors, preseason

P ORACLE Arena, Oakland, Calif.

Tipoff • Monday, 8:30 p.m.

TV • None

Radio • 1280 AM

Last meeting • Utah 104, Golden State 98 (April 6, 2012)

About the Jazz • The Jazz added three veteran players to a team that last year finished 36-30 in lockout shortened 2011-12 season. ... Center Al Jefferson led the Jazz with 19.2 points and 9.6 rebounds last season. ... Mo Williams is expected to make his first start for the Jazz. Utah drafted Williams No. 47 in the 2003 NBA Draft, but he left as a free agent after one season.

About the Warriors • Golden State is coming off of a 23-43 season. ... Five Warriors averaged more than 10 points last year. ... Former Utah Utes Andrew Bogut and Carlon Brown play for the Warriors.