Utah Jazz's 3-point shooting is arc nemesis

Published: Tuesday, Jan. 24 2012 11:11 p.m. MST

Utah Jazz point guard Devin Harris (5) is second on the team among 3-point shooters, making 31.1 percent.

Ravell Call, Deseret News

SALT LAKE CITY — With a 10-5 start, not much has gone wrong for a Utah Jazz team picked to be among the worst in the NBA this year by some experts.

Besides winning two-thirds of their games thus far, the Jazz are outrebounding their opponents, committing fewer turnovers, have more assists and steals and are shooting a better field goal percentage than their opponents.

Well, there is one place the Jazz aren't doing so hot.

Three-point shooting.

The Jazz rank near the bottom of the NBA in three 3-point categories and are shooting their worst percentage as a franchise in 26 seasons.

That's right, you have to go back to 1985-86 to find a time when the Jazz shot less than 30 percent from 3-point range as they are now at 28.6 percent.

Jazz coaches and players are well aware of the difficulty, but aren't so sure it matters that much, at least for the time being.

"We're just not making them right now," said Jazz coach Tyrone Corbin. "We're concerned but not that concerned because we don't want to go out looking for a lot of 3-point shots. We want to attack the basket first and go inside out."

So far that strategy has worked well for the Jazz, who are relying on the inside play of Al Jefferson and Paul Millsap, who average 18.3 and 16.6 points per game, respectively. Their third-leading scorer is another inside player, newcomer Josh Howard, who averages 10.7 points per game.

But just think how good the Jazz could be if they could make a few more 3-pointers every game.

Through their first 15 games, the Jazz rank second-to-last in the NBA in 3-point attempts with 12.8 per game. That's just half as many per game as league-leader New Jersey and more than only one team, Memphis. The Jazz are also third-to-last in 3-point makes per game (3.7) and fourth from the bottom in 3-point shooting percentage.

Utah's lack of firepower from 3-point range shouldn't be too surprising, considering that the franchise has let three of its all-time best 3-point shooters go in the last two years.

First to go was Kyle Korver, who set an NBA record in 2009-10 with a 53.6 percentage from behind the arc, leaving via free agency for Chicago. Then last season, the Jazz traded Deron Williams, who sank more than 500 treys in six Jazz seasons, making 35 percent of them. Earlier this year, the Jazz traded Mehmet Okur, who was a reliable 3-point shooter for six seasons here, making 38 percent, including the top two Jazz seasons for 3-point makes.

The top 3-point shooter for the Jazz this year is Raja Bell at 35.5 percent, followed by Devin Harris at 31.1 percent and C.J. Miles at 30 percent. Gordon Hayward, who set a Jazz rookie record and produced the third-best 3-point percentage in Jazz history last year at 47.3 percent on 35-of-74 shooting, is struggling from long range this year with just 9-of-34 for 26.5 percent.

"For me, it's rushing shots a little bit and I'm not shooting with confidence," Hayward said. "Right now they're just not falling, but I'm going to continue to shoot them. I put a lot up every day in practice and they usually go in, so I'll just keep shooting and they'll go down eventually."

Jazz assistant coach Jeff Hornacek, who made 40.3 percent of his 3-pointers in his NBA career, including an astounding 47.8 percent his final season at Utah in 1999-2000, believes it's not a huge deal that the Jazz are among the league's lowest when it comes to 3-pointers. He said he remembers when he played for Phoenix and his team averaged 120 points a game, yet didn't shoot many 3s.

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