Korver finds shooting touch vs. Heat

Kyle Korver scored 17 points, including five three-pointers, against the Heat on Thursday. Andrew D. Bernstein/Getty Images

CHICAGO -- The Chicago Bulls were able to turn to Kyle Korver and his 3-point shooting in the opening two rounds of the playoffs last season.

Korver came through with multiple 3-balls to help the Bulls take down the Indiana Pacers and the Atlanta Hawks in the playoffs. He hit 18 3-pointers in the two series and had four games in double figures scoring.

But when it came to the Miami Heat in the Eastern Conference finals, Korver disappeared.

He hit one 3-pointer in each of four games and none in another. He finished the series shooting 4-of-14 from 3-point range and 7-of-22 from the field. It was his worst five-game stretch of the season.

On Thursday against the Heat, Korver hit his shots again, connecting on 6-of-8 from the field, including 5-of-6 from 3-point range, and scoring 17 points in the Bulls’ 96-86 overtime win over the Heat.

If Korver can put together a performance like that should the Bulls meet the Heat in the playoffs again, he might just be able to give that added boost to put them over the top.

“I hope so,” Korver said. “I think we’re going to need everybody to beat them in the playoffs. They’re a really great team, a really talented team. I think everyone is a little tired right now. We’re going to catch them fresh in the playoffs. But I think we’re definitely a confident team playing them.”

Korver showed his confidence from the start Thursday by quickly getting into rhythm when he entered the game in the second quarter. He drained his first shot, a 3-pointer, at 9:48 to tie the game at 24-24. Thirty-one seconds later, Korver let another 3-pointer sail that found the net to put the Bulls ahead 28-24.

After sitting out the third quarter, Korver made his presence known again in the fourth. He drained his third 3-pointer to pull the Bulls within 70-65 with 7:56 left. He then gave the Bulls a 76-74 lead with another 3-pointer with 4:13 left and followed that with his lone 2-point field to put them ahead 78-74. He was 3-of-3 shooting in the quarter.

For his last trick, Korver closed the door on the Heat for good when he nailed a 27-footer to put the Bulls ahead 96-86 with 1:01 remaining. Neither team scored again.

“I was calling on my inner John Lucas [III] to hit the shot,” Korver joked afterward. “The shot clock was down. It didn’t really feel that good when I shot it. It was one of those nights, so we’ll take it.”

While the victory provided the Bulls a four-game lead on the Heat in the Eastern Conference standings and put them a step closer to having home-court advantage throughout the playoffs, Korver was just happy to be a part of the win.

“That’s a fun game right there,” Korver said. “In the grand scheme of things, it helps us in the standings, but last year we swept them [in the regular season] and we lost the series, so we’re not reading too much into it. But it was a really fun game to play.”