Korver has found a home in Philly
(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 offensive system.
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.PHI