Tom Smart, Deseret News
SALT LAKE CITY — Thanks to Monday's rough outing at the charity stripe, certain members of the Utah Jazz had 1,200 extra free throws to make on Tuesday.
Tired of seeing freebies clang off the rim, Jazz players decided to institute a new policy.
Miss a free throw in a game, put up a hundred foul shots the following day.
"I missed one," Jazz forward Paul Millsap said at Tuesday's practice, "so I've got 100 I've got to get in before the day's over with."
Millsap was one of the team leaders who convinced the team — ranked only 18th in the NBA in free-throw shooting (73.8 percent) — that this would be a productive consequence for misses from the line.
The idea originated when second-year big Derrick Favors was getting free-throw counseling from Jazz assistant coach Jeff Hornacek, who shot 87.7 percent from the stripe during his 13-year NBA career.
"He was missing some," Hornacek said, "so I told him, 'Derrick, if you miss any free throws tonight, it's going to be a hundred for every one you miss.' "
Favors didn't miss that night, the ex-Jazz sharpshooter recalled. Hornacek half-jokingly told the team that if that's what it takes to get them to hit foul shots, it might be a good idea for everyone.
Beats 100 sprints per miss.
"At least it's not anything dealing with your legs," Millsap agreed, laughing.
When Monday's 24-for-36 night was brought up Tuesday, Hornacek laughed and said, "There's going to be a lot of free throws being shot."
Hornacek doesn't expect players to imitate his famous face-swiping routine, but he reminds guys that getting a rhythm and routine at the line is essential.
"They have to find something that makes you comfortable at the free-throw line," he said.
Hornacek's habit included touching his cheek, bouncing the ball and a smooth stroke.
"I always did that for several reasons. One, to say hi to the kids. Two, to get a little sweat on my hands because I didn't like when my hand was dry," Hornacek said. "Also, when you envision your routine and go through it, it blocks everything else out because you're only focused on that one thing and your shot and there are no other distractions."
Focus and confidence are key, Hornacek insisted.
"I always laugh when you watch these opponents complain about the doc (behind the visitors' basket) throwing stuff up in the air. I'm like, 'Whoever sees that stuff?' " Hornacek said. "If they actually noticed that, then you know they're going to miss.
"It's just these guys getting in a rhythm, feeling confident," he added. "You've got to go up there going, 'I'm going to make this.' It's automatic. A lot of confidence."
Or a lot of free throws the next day.
FAN OF THE FANS: Seconds after Utah's gutsy 93-89 win over Portland ended Monday, an excited Greg Miller got caught up in the moment. He walked over to the P.A. microphone to deliver an impromptu message while thrilled spectators filed out of the arena.
The Jazz CEO thanked the crowd and told them, "You guys are the greatest fans in the NBA!"
Small forward Josh Howard endorses the statement.
"I agree with him as far as the best fans in the NBA," he said, "and sticking behind us no matter if we're winning or losing."
Howard thought it was pretty cool that Miller delivered the message.
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