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Brad Rock: Foye's shooting just what the Jazz needed

Published: Wednesday, Jan. 23 2013 2:30 a.m. MST

Randy Foye of the Utah Jazz is making 47.7 percent of his 3-point shots this season — sixth best in the NBA.   (Brian Nicholson, Okespaño, Brian Nicholson, Deseret News, Ben Brewer, Okespañol) Randy Foye of the Utah Jazz is making 47.7 percent of his 3-point shots this season — sixth best in the NBA. (Brian Nicholson, Okespaño, Brian Nicholson, Deseret News, Ben Brewer, Okespañol)

The rim is never out of range, whether straight ahead or just at the edges of his vision. That's how it goes with both yesteryear's Jazz sharpshooter and today's.

He expects the next shot, every shot, to be on the mark.

"A lot of shooting is confidence," said Jeff Hornacek, now a Jazz assistant coach. "You know what they say about shooters — the hoop is a mile wide when you get zeroed in."

In that case, Randy Foye's view must look like the Grand Canyon, minimum.

The Jazz begin the second half of their season on Wednesday. If they do anything important the rest of the year, much depends on Foye, who has suddenly become the team's most interesting option. It's not like they haven't had shooters before. Hornacek could pick off a gnat at 50 paces. Kyle Korver and Mehmet Okur, too, made it look easy.

For them, it was reminiscent of the camera commercials starring Korver's look-alike, Ashton Kutcher — just point and shoot. Korver made a phenomenal 54 percent in 2009-10, while Hornacek, the standard for Jazz shooters, shot 48 percent from the arc in 1999-2000.

Utah Jazz guard Randy Foye (8) shoots over Denver Nuggets guard Evan Fournier (94) as the Utah Jazz defeat the Denver Nuggets 105-103 as they play NBA basketball Monday, Nov. 26, 2012, in Salt Lake City. (Brian Nicholson, Okespaño, Brian Nicholson, Deseret News, Ben Brewer, Okespañol) Utah Jazz guard Randy Foye (8) shoots over Denver Nuggets guard Evan Fournier (94) as the Utah Jazz defeat the Denver Nuggets 105-103 as they play NBA basketball Monday, Nov. 26, 2012, in Salt Lake City. (Brian Nicholson, Okespaño, Brian Nicholson, Deseret News, Ben Brewer, Okespañol)

But after an abysmal shooting year in 2011-12 (.323), the Jazz admitted they couldn't enter the next season bereft of perimeter punch. So they added Marvin and Mo Williams, each having had several good games from outside. The big shooting coup, though, was Foye, whose range is just outside the arc but inside the metal detectors. In the last five games he has hit 19 of 30 three-point shots, including one six-for-seven game against Atlanta.

His overall three-point percentage (.437) is sixth-best in the league, right ahead of legendary shooter Ray Allen.

"Don't even matter, it don't even matter," Foye said, modestly dismissing his shooting streak. "I just try to work and get better every day. I don't even think about it. I just think about what's happening in the game and where my shots are going to come if they double Big Al (Jefferson) or if they help too much on a certain part of the court. I just try to be ready."

Ready he is. The Jazz have improved from being the 27th-best three-point team last year to eighth-best. They are two wins ahead of last year's pace, thanks to Foye's recent shooting and five victories in the last six games.

Jazz guard Randy Foye (8) shoots an outside shot during the first half of the NBA basketball game between the Utah Jazz and the San Antonio Spurs at Energy Solutions Arena, Wednesday, Dec. 12, 2012. (Brian Nicholson, Okespaño, Brian Nicholson, Deseret News, Ben Brewer, Okespañol) Jazz guard Randy Foye (8) shoots an outside shot during the first half of the NBA basketball game between the Utah Jazz and the San Antonio Spurs at Energy Solutions Arena, Wednesday, Dec. 12, 2012. (Brian Nicholson, Okespaño, Brian Nicholson, Deseret News, Ben Brewer, Okespañol)

There's a certain savoir faire to making threes that other players just can't copy. Dunks are entertaining and creative, but sometimes bullish and uncouth. Treys are like shooting stars, sudden bright streaks from afar.

Unless it's an off-balance lunge or a surprise bank-shot, a made three-pointer almost always looks pretty.

So far the Jazz have cashed in nicely on their investment. They signed Foye as a free agent in July. In him they got a 6-foot-4 shooting guard who can extend defenses. With adroit big men Paul Millsap and Al Jefferson playing for the Jazz, opponents must decide whether to double them in the paint or range to keep Foye occupied.

"If he gets in rhythm and has his feet set, we're very confident he's going to make the shot," coach Ty Corbin said. "And they want to give him the ball when they come down in transition."

It's not impossible, but still uncommon, for the Jazz to be great outside the arc. That's partly due to emphasis. Coaches Jerry Sloan and now Ty Corbin believe in the inside-out approach. Yet the Jazz have had their years. They finished third in three-point percentage in 1999-2000, Hornacek's last in the NBA. They were third the next year, too, with John Stockton still around. But in the last 11 years they have finished inside the top 10 just twice; 20th or below eight times.

Foye is making sure they improve on that.

"When he's working on shots (in practice), he's not just taking shots," Hornacek said. "He's really focused. He's a self-motivated shooter. There's not a lot you need to tell him."

Except maybe thanks for airing the place out.

Email: rock@desnews.com

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