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Utah Jazz: For Randy Foye 3s are falling, and records will, too

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Rich Pedroncelli | The Associated Press Utah Jazz guard Randy Foye, right, shoots over Sacramento Kings guard Tyreke Evans during the first half of an NBA basketball game in Sacramento, Calif., on Nov. 24, 2012. Foye is one three-point field goal away from breaking Memo Okur's single-season record of 129 three-pointers for the Jazz

By Bill Oram

The Salt Lake Tribune

First published Feb 05 2013 04:43PM
Updated May 21, 2013 11:32PM

He shot by John Stockton and eclipsed Jeff Hornacek. He bypassed Bryon Russell, and then C.J. Miles. Now, all that stands between Randy Foye and status as the most prolific perimeter shooter in Jazz history are 15 3-pointers.

Foye, the first-year Jazz guard, has made 114 3s, including a 3-for-5 performance in Monday’s 98-91 overtime win over the Sacramento Kings, and is creeping closer to Mehmet Okur’s single-season franchise record of 129 set in 2007. At this rate, with 33 games left in the season, Foye is likely to not only claim the record, but obliterate it, thereby establishing himself as one of the best shooters in team history.

"That’s what they want me to do is shoot the ball," Foye said, "but I don’t really pay attention to the record or anything because the most important thing is that we’re winning."

Foye made a career-high 127 3-pointers last season with the Clippers, and was signed to a $2.5 million one-year contract, brought in by then-general manager Kevin O’Connor to address an oft-lamented weakness in the Jazz offense.

But this?

"I think he’s been a little more than what we thought we were going to get when we got him," coach Tyrone Corbin said Tuesday.

Foye has started every game since Nov. 17 at Washington when Corbin moved Gordon Hayward to the bench, in an effort to get Hayward more shots with the second unit. It’s benefitted both Hayward and Foye. With recent injuries to Hayward, Mo Williams, and Earl Watson, Foye’s role has evolved and he has been asked to play more point guard. But his perimeter shooting has remained constant.

He is fifth in the NBA in 3-pointers made, and remains in the top-10 in percentage — 43.3 — despite shooting a career-low 32.7 percent just two years ago with the Clippers.

"As a young shooter," Foye said. "I was interested in percentages. I would look and say, ‘Oh man, I’m at 31 percent. I would go out there and when I got a 3, it would probably be in my head."

More important than the statistics, though, is how Foye’s hot touch has changed things for the Jazz. Teams still collapse on the Jazz’s post scorers — and rightly so: they take 46 percent of their shots within 9 feet of the basket — but for the first time since they acquired center Al Jefferson, the Jazz have a reliable shooting guard to punish defenders.

"It’s good to make teams pay for double-teaming me," Jefferson said, "which they don’t stop doing. It’s good to have guys like Randy and [Marvin Williams], [Alec] Burks, hitting them 3-point shots, put that pressure on them."

Jefferson said that’s the easy explanation for the fact that he averages a career-high 2.2 assists, which ties his average from last season.

The Jazz have a decision on their hands as it relates to Foye, though. He is a free agent after the season, but bringing him back would once again present the dilemma of whether to start he or young star Hayward.

Foye is unequivocal in his desire to remain with the Jazz beyond this season.

"I love the guys here," Foye said. "I know the guys, we get along really well. I just picture myself being here for a while. I don’t really want to talk about contract things, but I just picture I would want to be here for a long time."

And if the Jazz have to debate keeping Foye around, there has been more to put in the "pros" column than just 3-point shooting. In addition to scoring 20 points against the Kings, Foye recorded six assists while splitting his time at point guard. Two games before that, in a victory over Portland, he grabbed seven rebounds.

"A lot of times you get put in categories," Foye said. "Sometimes they just look at you as one thing, or he can penetrate really well, or this guy is a really good passer or he’s a leader or he’s just a shooter."

Foye wants to be all of those things and, as the Jazz lose more and more players to injury, more will be expected of him in each category.

"I think everyone here at the organization, they just have unbelievable confidence in what I do," Foye said. "They trust me in crucial situations and they want me to be who I am."

boram@sltrib.com

Twitter: @tribjazz

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