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Kragthorpe: Kyle Korver extends winning trend from Jazz days

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Chicago Bulls' Kyle Korver (26) puts up a three-point shot against Milwaukee Bucks' Drew Gooden, left, during the first half of an NBA basketball game on Saturday, Feb. 4, 2012, in Milwaukee. (AP Photo/Jeffrey Phelps)

By Kurt Kragthorpe

The Salt Lake Tribune

First published Dec 31 2012 09:49AM
Updated Jan 2, 2013 04:34PM

Atlanta • Five years ago today, Kyle Korver joined the Jazz and started winning. He hasn’t stopped.

After the Jazz acquired him from Philadelphia for guard Gordan Giricek, Korver made his EnergySolutions Arena debut on New Year’s Eve of 2007 and helped the team to a 38-12 record in the remaining 50 games of the season.

He then played for Jazz teams that went 48-34 and 53-29 before signing with Chicago as a free agent. The Bulls posted NBA-best records of 62-20 and 50-16 (in the lockout-shortened season) and then traded Korver to Atlanta, where the Hawks are enjoying a surprising resurgence. Their 19-9 record ranks No. 3 in the Eastern Conference.

Add it up, and Korver has gone 270-120 (.692) with his three teams in five calendar years — winning nearly as many games as LeBron James with Cleveland and Miami.

"I had a couple years in Philly where we weren’t as good, so it makes me appreciate these years that much more," Korver said after scoring 16 points in Saturday’s victory over Indiana.

At 31 and in his 10th pro season, Korver is the oldest Hawk — by 17 days over another former Jazzman, DeShawn Stevenson — and he’s averaging 10.8 points in 29.2 minutes as a starter. Those are his biggest contributions since his Philadelphia tenure.

Having played in offenses in Utah and Chicago that were "very regimented," Korver was accustomed to knowing where his shots would come from, and could gear himself to those spots. It’s different in Atlanta.

"It kind of took me awhile when I got here to kind of let myself relax a little bit, because I was so programmed," he said. "Here, we’re more of a free-flowing team, and so it’s been fun. I’m just really enjoying it."

Hawks coach Larry Drew likes the veteran element that Korver and point guard Devin Harris have provided - although Harris, who was acquired from the Jazz for Marvin Williams last summer - has been sidelined recently by a foot injury.

"I really just the respect the professionalism that [Korver] brought to our club, how he handles himself in the locker room," Drew said.

Drew also is impressed by Korver’s defensive work, which is noticeably improved after his two seasons under coach Tom Thibodeau in Chicago.

"When you look at Kyle, you say he’s just a shooter," Drew said. "But he’s a great team defender; he’s always in the right spots. … You need guys like that, that understand the whole team concept of the defense."

In a recent loss to Oklahoma City, Korver had five rebounds, four steals and three blocked shots to go with his nine points.

The Jazz will visit Atlanta on Jan. 11.

kkragthorpe@sltrib.com

Twitter: @tribkurt

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