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Utah Jazz basketball: Improved long-range shooting aiding Jazz offense

Published: Wednesday, Nov. 21 2012 12:10 p.m. MST

Utah's Randy foye as the Utah Jazz play the Dallas Mavericks in NBA basketball Wednesday, Oct. 31, 2012, in Salt Lake City, Utah.

Tom Smart, Deseret News

SALT LAKE CITY — It's evident simply watching the Utah Jazz, this 2012-13 version isn't playing the same type of basketball music that previous squads cranked out for decades under the direction of Hall of Fame coach Jerry Sloan.

Not by a long shot.

And, yes, that was a reference to beyond-the-arc long shots from 22 feet or so out.

Formerly a pick-and-roll playground, Utah is now doing more in 3-point land.

The Jazz are both taking and making more deep shots. Keeping the limited 12-game sample size in mind, Utah shooters are averaging 18.1 3-point attempts per outing this season compared to just 12.8 trey tries a game last year.

The thing Jazz coach Tyrone Corbin likes the most?

Utah, he pointed out, is also "making a little bit more."

The 2011-12 Jazz averaged 4.1 made 3s last year on 32.3 percent shooting, but they've hit 6.3 bombs a game this fall on a slightly improved 35.0 percent rate. That's an additional 6.6 points a game from 3-point territory.

"We've got 3-point shooters on the team. I think that our big focus as an organization was to get some 3-point shooters to help our inside game out. It looks like we've figured that out," Jazz forward Paul Millsap said. "We got some good pieces ... stepping up to shoot and shooting pretty well."

Improving outside shooting was an offseason emphasis for the Jazz, which was made clear with the additions of three veteran shooters in Mo Williams, Marvin Williams and Randy Foye.

Foye and Millsap have made the biggest overall impact from outside.

Millsap is only shooting 46.9 percent from the field, but he's turned himself into a legitimate long-range threat and has hit 55.6 percent from Hot Rod Hundley's parking-lot territory. He's currently fourth in the NBA in 3-point percentage.

Foye leads the Jazz in 3-point attempts per outing (5.1) and is hitting a sizzling 44.3 percent from the bonus-range perimeter. He's the third-most accurate 3-point shooter in the league amongst players who average at least 5.0 long-ball attempts a game.

In fact, the 6-foot-4 Foye has become such a steady performer with his new team that Corbin trusted him enough to insert the seventh-season player into the starting lineup this past weekend.

"I'm not perfect. Some games, I struggle. Some games, I hit a few threes," Foye said. "But the main thing for me is my preparation."

Foye, a career 36.9 percent 3-point shooter, said he spends time every day before and after practice and again on game days working to fine tune and hone his outside touch.

For him, the continual effort helps increase his ever-important belief that the shot will fall in games when he gets the opportunities to fire away.

"Just having the confidence in myself, understanding that I take those shots over a million times," he said. "I'm saying to myself when I'm shooting it in the game, 'There's no reason it shouldn't go in now.'"

Millsap has also worked hard to develop more consistency and confidence to be able to stretch his game, adding another weapon to the ever-diversified arsenal of the versatile forward.

That's helped him convince Corbin to allow him to roam out into 3-point range without raising eyebrows.

"I put in a lot of work over the years. My main focus was being confident and just getting out there shooting it," said Millsap, who's shot 30.4 percent from 3-point land throughout his seven-year career. "I think if I'm confident shooting it, I don't think (Corbin) will have a problem with it.

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