There seems to be a record for everything these days, but sometimes numbers don’t tell the whole story. The number of assists a player makes doesn’t account for turnovers. The number of points a player gets doesn’t show you their number of misses. Last night in Philips Arena, the Atlanta Hawks’ Kyle Korver broke an NBA record that said more about his character and work ethic than anything else.
With 5:29 left in the first quarter, Paul Millsap spotted Korver open on the perimeter and found him with a kick out pass. This set up Korver’s 90th consecutive game with a made three-pointer. Was there hesitation, any sign of nerves in his stroke? Of course not, it was automatic as always. The result of endless hours of practice.
Korver has made himself one of the greatest shooters in NBA history.
Famous for his work rate, the former Creighton Bluejay practices at game speed with the assistant coaches in daily sessions and even pre-game. This isn’t something that every player in the league does, or is even able to do, instead it’s a testament to Korver’s attitude and focus.
Coming off the court at halftime during the Hawks 108-89 victory against the Cavaliers on Friday night, Fox Sports South’s Andre Aldridge asked the Californian how it felt to break the record. Korver’s slightly agitated response typified the man,
“I’m just glad it’s done, I mean let’s play some basketball now. We’ll talk about it more after the game, it’s halftime!”
Korver understands his responsibilities as a specialist role player in the league, taking his shots when they’re there for him and deferring to a teammate when they aren’t.
In fact, Korver’s willingness to pass can often be overlooked. Korver is averaging 2.8 assists per game, which isn’t bad for a guy who spends much of his time running around screens on the perimeter looking to get open shots. Even when he’s not passing or scoring, Korver still provides the team with a significant output though.
The threat of his shot alone is enough for the opposition to dedicate special attention to Atlanta’s No. 26, which creates much better spacing for the Hawks offensively. With Korver playing, the Hawks are 10-7 this season, while during the four games he missed because of a right rib contusion, Atlanta was 1-3.
That aforementioned rib contusion played its part in adding to the suspense surrounding the record, as Korver missed just more than a week through injury. On his return against the Clippers on Wednesday night, it was as if he had never been away though. The 32-year-old took only 30 seconds to make his first 3-pointer to tie the record and wasted no time in kicking on from there. Korver finished with 23 points and five assists on 66.7 percent shooting.
This sort of game isn’t a flash in the pan either, as Korver is having a tremendous season. After playing in 17 of the season’s first 21 games, he is shooting 53.6 percent from the field (13th highest in the NBA), 52.2 percent from 3-point range (third highest in the NBA) and 93.8 percent from the free throw line (second highest in the NBA). As if that wasn’t impressive enough, Korver is the only man in the NBA to be shooting 50-50-90 for the three major shooting categories.
Dana Barros, the previous holder of the consecutive games with a made 3-pointer record, told Boston Celtics broadcaster Sean Grande that Korver’s run was “no fluke.” Barros continued,
“It takes a real shooter to do that…I enjoyed it while it lasted.”
With Barros’ record now having fallen after just less than 17 years, perhaps there is no record more suited to Kyle Korver’s legacy.
Not because it will immortalize his prolific long distance shooting, but because it highlights consistency, a strength which is often overlooked in the game. The thing is, now that Korver has passed the record, he’s showing no signs of slowing down.
As he continues to take the floor with the sole intention of helping his team to wins, who’s to know how high his streak will go. One way or another, Korver’s place in history is deservedly assured.