CLEVELAND (92.3 The Fan) – Kyle Korver tries to dunk one basketball every season. Just one.
For some, that isn’t setting such a high bar. But Korver’s game doesn’t really involve flying above the rim. It’s far more about launching from long distance.
For a brief moment on Wednesday night, the Cavaliers’ sharp-shooting guard thought his former teammate, Jeff Teague, had kept him from reaching his one-dunk quota.
Teague had closed enough on Korver as Cleveland’s shooting guard had leaked into the backcourt in transition following his steal and subsequent pass up court by Iman Shumpert.
Korver had to settle for a layup with just over six minutes remaining in Wednesday’s eventual 113-104 victory over the Indiana Pacers at Quicken Loans Arena.
“I was like, ‘Come on, Jeff.’ I thought that was my chance,” Korver said.
But the basketball gods aren’t always cruel, and Korver got another attempt at a dunk just over two minutes later. This time, Korver caught the lengthy pass from Derrick Williams and flushed the basketball with two hands.
“Now the pressure is off,” he joked. “(Dunking was) just for my personal well-being, (knowing) that I can get up there.”
Despite some friendly ribbing from his teammates, the Cavs don’t really care if the 35-year-old can dunk — especially if he continues connecting at an unconscious pace from behind the three-point line.
Knocking down triples has always been his calling card. But now that he is getting familiar with his new team following the mid-season trade from Atlanta, they are coming in incredible bunches.
“I don’t create much on my own,” Korver said. “I’m a product of great ball movement and screening. Obviously I’ve got great talent around me and got some good looks tonight.”
Korver finished with 22 points in Wednesday’s win, going 6-for-8 from downtown and raising his three-pointer rate over the past six games to 24-of-35.
Overall, he’s shot 51.5 percent from downtown since joining the Cavs.
Yeah. That ain’t bad.
And any struggles he had early trying to fit in post trade? Those seem to be a distant memory.
“Now that we’ve been able to put in some different sets that we didn’t run early on and before, he’s been great with those,” head coach Tyronn Lue said. “And playing that bigger lineup the last three games has really been good for us because now, we come in and (LeBron James) is the backup point guard and they have to put a point guard on Korver which makes it tough.”
Certainly, playing on a team with James and Kyrie Irving will create opportunities for Korver. But not every player is capable of cashing in as often as he can, which makes the Cavs dangerous even without Kevin Love, who is expected to miss the next six weeks following left knee surgery.
And while he is a different sort of player than the rehabbing J.R. Smith, his ability to drain shots from beyond the line will help Cleveland in this difficult stretch without two of their best players after the All-Star Break.
Beyond Wednesday’s dunk, Korver also added to his personal accomplishments, becoming the seventh player in NBA history to knock down 2,000 career three-pointers.
“It means something to me for sure,” he said. “I’ve always taken a lot of pride in shooting and studying it and thinking about it and trying to be better, and obviously I’m working on it every day and I remember when I was much farther down the list, just the guys who were there — Reggie Miller and Ray Allen and those guys — I was like, ‘Wow, 2,000 threes. That’s so many threes.’”
They count for more than dunks anyhow.