Utah Jazz forward Kyle Korver broke out of a shooting slump in a big way on Monday night, making his first five shots — including three 3-pointers — and scoring 16 points in a 108-89 victory over the Atlanta Hawks at EnergySolutions Arena.
But Korver's best play of the game may have been the one that saved his teammate, Matt Harpring, a fine and a suspension.
Harpring, after getting fouled hard by Atlanta's Josh Smith with 8:40 remaining in the game, jumped up quickly and looked headed for an ugly confrontation with Smith. Korver, however, got in the way, holding Harpring back.
"Cooler heads prevailed," Harpring said.
Harpring "about went right through me," said Korver. "When Matt puts his mind on something he's one of those guys who can make it happen."
Smith, for his part, was hit with a flagrant-2 foul and ejected from the game. Harpring, meanwhile, didn't hurt any Hawks with fisticuffs, but he made them pay for the hard foul by scoring a personal season-high 15 points.
"That was one of those that hurt," said Harpring, who landed flat on his back and whose head banged against the hardwood floor. "Every time I get knocked down like that a voice goes off in my head, 'get up.' It just goes back to what my dad said in football — never act like you are hurt."
After being held back by Korver and others, Harpring appeared woozy and held his head.
"It's cool. I'm fine," Harpring said after the game.
Jazz coach Jerry Sloan, a hard-nosed player during his time, has always appreciated Harpring's style.
"He gives us toughness," said Sloan. "Every time he steps out on the floor he doesn't back away from anybody."
Harpring and a Hawk had already had an incident prior to Smith's flagrant foul. Atlanta guard Joe Johnson had thrown an elbow at him after the two had gotten tangled up just a couple of trips down the floor previously.
"I'm just glad nobody got hurt," said Sloan. "That's the bottom line."
Atlanta wasn't convinced Smith's foul should have even been flagrant.
"We have to go back and send the tape into the league and see what they say," said Hawks coach Mike Woodson of Smith's foul on Harpring.
"The way (Harpring) landed is what really caused (it)," said Atlanta center Al Horford. "He landed fine and then hit his head. I don't think Josh is a dirty player, it was just unfortunate that it happened."17 comments on this story
Korver, meanwhile, came out on fire after making just 5-of-26 shots (19 percent) in his previous three games. He entered the game earlier than usual after starter C.J. Miles picked up two quick fouls. Korver then nailed five straight shots in the first half to help the Jazz open up a lead of as many as 19 points.
"My elbow was feeling a little sore before the game, to be honest," said Kover. "But then I came out and hit a couple and I was ready to go. I got some good looks and was able to knock them down."
Harpring and Korver were able to lead a Jazz bench that combined to score 58 points.