The frantic situation, the crowd going crazy, the other team doing a good job of catching up on the Utah Jazz's home floor. It just hardly matters to Kyle Korver.
Saturday night at EnergySolutions Arena, Korver was brought back into a close game with :21.6 left and Utah nursing a four-point lead over the athletic young Atlanta Hawks for one reason: To catch inbounds passes, absorb the catch-up fouls from Atlanta and to make the free throws.
As he's done several times already since he joined Utah Dec. 29 in a trade, Korver planted those free throws. This time it was six straight, the Jazz's last six points in a 100-94 win.
How does Korver do it? He's missed maybe one critical free throw since he got to Utah.
"I just think about practicing," Korver said.
"I have a routine that I do before every one, and it's very exact. There's a lot of steps to it. I just think about my routine, concentrate on that, not the situation, not the crowd. Just focus on that."
He doesn't explain the steps he takes, just says he's never counted them. "Probably seven or eight of them I kind of go through," he said, "and it I'm thinking about that."
Korver said even when he was in junior high school, he was a good free-throw shooter, and he's had some sort of routine dating back probably that far.
"It's just what I've always tried to do," he said
"The steps have probably grown as I've gotten older and gotten more obsessive about it, I guess. I just try to be very exact."
It's made him one of the best in the game at being clutch at the line, and it may be a more valuable skill than his 3-point shooting, for which he's most known.
"It's always nice to have somebody you can go to," said coach Jerry Sloan. "If they make them."
Sloan used to have Jeff Hornacek and John Stockton to rely on for late free throws. Last year, Derek Fisher did it pretty well. "He always made free throws when we came down the stretch. Maybe not quite as good as Kyle, but he was a very good free-throw shooter. We didn't feel bad if he got it in his hands." Mehmet Okur and Ronnie Brewer have been go-to free-throw shooters at times.
But Korver is a weapon at the line.
"Well, we've had guys shoot them, but they don't make them," Sloan said. "They're going to foul somebody. But he steps up, and (Korver) may have missed one somewhere along the line under those conditions, but he did a great job."
"I've been put in that situation for a lot of years now," said Korver, who says he can stay in the gym shooting free throws all day, honing that skill.
"High school, college, NBA, pretty much any game I've ever played in, when you need to make free throws at the end, I've always been the guy they try to get the ball to. I've done it for a long time. It's something I'm comfortable doing."
It's something he wants to be doing.
"I do like it. I do. I do. It's something I feel confident in, and if we're going to win or lose a game with free throws, I'd like it to be decided by me," said Korver.
In this game, he was 3-for-6 from the field and made a 23-foot jumper with 5:14 to go for an 84-79 Jazz lead, but 16 seconds later, he fouled Atlanta's Marvin Williams, and Sloan took Korver out for Matt Harpring. Korver was obviously unhappy.
"No one wants to be taken out of the game. We're competitors. It's all right. It's Coach's decision. I probably shouldn't have been upset. Doesn't matter," he said.He figured that if the game came down to free throws or maybe one shot, he'd be back in at the end, and he was.
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