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Korver could be key contributor

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Jazz forward Kyle Korver (26) and his slick 3-point shooting could be a key component in Utah's postseason quest.

Jazz forward Kyle Korver (26) and his slick 3-point shooting could be a key component in Utah’s postseason quest.

Douglas C. Pizac, Associated Press

Kyle Korver has had about as much experience participating in the NBA playoffs as oh, say, Hillary Clinton has had running the country.

On second thought — in spite of what her husband Bill might tell you — Hillary has probably had much more experience running the country as a former first lady (and current presidential wannabe) than Korver has had playing in the league's postseason bash.

After all, up until now, Korver's playoff experience consists of one five-game series back in 2005, when he averaged just five points per game for the Philadelphia 76ers, who dropped their first-round matchup to the Detroit Pistons and subsequently missed the playoffs during his next two years in Philly.

That's about to change, though, when Korver — who was traded to Utah in December in exchange for Gordan Giricek and a draft pick — and his Jazz teammates crash the NBA's annual postseason party, hoping to make plenty of noise like the Jazz did last year, when they advanced all the way to the Western Conference finals.

"I think we're all just real excited about it," Korver said. "I know from my standpoint, I've only been in the playoffs once and we got beat in five games. Just knowing the run that these guys had last year, we're just hoping for another run like that, and I'm real excited to be a part of it."

If the Jazz do again find postseason success, it will likely be in part from some contributions made by the the slick-shooting, 6-foot-6 forward whose smooth stroke from 3-point range and the foul line (91.3 percent) have made him a vital sparkplug off the bench for coach Jerry Sloan.

His acquisition has been critical to Utah's quest to secure this year's Northwest Division championship and a high seed for postseason play. It didn't take long for Korver to fit nicely into Utah's plans, and he has embraced his role in Sloan's rotation.

"It took a little bit of time," he said, "trying to find your niche with the other players and have them know where you like the ball, and for me also, knowing where they like the ball, and who excels where on the floor. I feel like I've got it down pretty well now, and I'm just looking forward to finishing off the season right.

"I feel pretty good about things here. It's been pretty easy to fit in, it's a really easy team to fit on. It's a great system that I really enjoy playing in, and it's been good for me."

While Korver has thrived since arriving in Utah, where he's averaged around 10 points per game while shooting almost 40 percent from the 3-point line, his former Sixers teammates have done just fine in Philly, too, nailing down the franchise's first playoff berth since that 2005 appearance.

"I text message a lot of the players and coaches there and still talk to them," Korver, who just turned 27, said, "and I wish them all the best."

He's happy for their success, as well as that of his new teammates in Utah.

The fifth-year pro out of Creighton University said he and the Jazz, who at times have struggled badly on the road this season, were encouraged by recent road games against New Orleans and Dallas.

"Obviously, we play better at home than we do on the road. We have a huge weapon here at home with our crowd in this arena," Korver said.

"Just playing well on the road is a step in the right direction for us. We've always had confidence in ourselves but, for some reason, something wasn't clicking on the road. But maybe that last trip kind of showed us that we are capable of playing well on the road.

"Now we've just got to go out there and do it."

Spoken like a true professional.

Or maybe like a true politician on the campaign trail. Heck, Hillary would be proud.

E-mail: rhollis@desnews.com