Points in the Paint
By Warren Blatt, Sports Network NBA Editor
Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) – Philadelphia 76ers forward Kyle Korver
has shown this season that he belongs in the NBA. A three-point specialist,
Korver has become a key figure in Philadelphia head coach Jim O’Brien’s
On Monday, Korver knocked down a game-winning jumper with six seconds left in
regulation to lead the Sixers to a 89-88 victory over the Indiana Pacers at
the Wachovia Center. Korver played 34 minutes in the victory and finished with
17 points, while shooting an impressive 5-of-7 from three-point range.
Korver, who grabbed nine rebounds against the Pacers, got help from All-Star
Allen Iverson in the win over Indiana. Iverson scored a game-high 27 points,
pulled down nine boards and dished out eight assists in 44 minutes of action.
The victory was huge for Philadelphia, which moved ahead of the Boston Celtics
by 1/2 game for the lead in the Eastern Conference’s Atlantic Division.
“I was just telling the staff that we have played more games, single digits,
win or lose than anybody in the NBA,” said O’Brien. “I would like to win one
that doesn’t come down to the dead end. But, it is a great way to win a
basketball game to a team that is struggling, but is going to be a team to
recon with down the stretch and in the playoffs. Terrific pass by Allen to
Kyle to get the winning bucket. Kyle and Allen leading us in rebounds really
says a lot. I thought Samuel (Dalembert) did a great job on Jermaine O’Neal. A
great effort to come out with a W.”
When the game is on the line for Philadelphia, Iverson is usually the player
who is going to take the shot. Korver, who is playing in just his second
season in the league, has shown this season that if the All-Star guard cannot
get off a shot that he is willing to step up to the challenge. In years past,
Sixers’ opponents have known that Iverson was going to take the last shot, now
there is someone else to look out for.
“It was one of those shots that make great players,” said Iverson after the
Indiana game. “You see a guy in his second year, able to hit a big shot like
that, says a lot about him as a player. Says a lot about his confidence. Says
a lot about the confidence that the coaching staff and we have in him.
“I don’t know, I mean, the expression on his face after he made it, I guess he
was just feeling like the game wasn’t over, because it seemed like it was just
a regular free throw or something that he made. But it was a big shot. I know
he felt good inside. I’m just happy for him.”
Originally drafted out of Creighton by the New Jersey Nets in the second round
(51st overall selection) of the 2003 NBA Draft, Korver was traded to
Philadelphia for an undisclosed amount of cash on draft night. He played in 74
contests in his rookie campaign, averaging 11.9 minutes per game to go along
with 4.5 points and 1.5 rebounds.
The 23-year-old Korver, who did not start any games in his rookie campaign,
became a bigger part of Philadelphia’s game plan when O’Brien, who is in his
first season as the general of the 76ers, became the head coach. O’Brien likes
his team to shoot from the outside and does not want his squad to shy away
from putting up the three. In Korver, the Sixers head coach felt he had a
player who could add a dimension to his offense that would open up the court
more for Iverson and his big men.
So far, the Korver experiment has been a success.
Korver, who has scored in double-digits in 10 straight games, has played in
all 44 of Philadelphia’s games this season. He is playing 31 minutes per game
and is averaging 11.9 points, which is third on the team, 4.3 rebounds and 2.1
assists. Korver is shooting just under 41 percent from beyond the arc and
almost 90 percent from the foul line.
The Creighton product, who has started 19 games for the Sixers, has scored in
double-digits 29 times this season and has netted four or more three-pointers
in 14 contests.
The emergence of Korver has been huge for the 76ers. It has helped take some
weight off the shoulders of Iverson and it has give O’Brien a weapon that can
be deadly at any point of the game.
Korver is not a superstar, but he is a player that fits into a certain system
that can utilize his skills to the maximum. He has found a home in the NBA.