March 12, 2012, 9:43 pm
Monday’s Bulls-Knicks matchup featured reigning MVP Derrick Rose going head-to-head with phenom Jeremy Lin, but there was another matchup that went under the radar.
Steve Novak and Kyle Korver don’t exactly light up the stat sheet in every area, but the two forwards have certainly found their niche — as three-point specialists.
Novak has only played in 29 games, but has been shooting lights-out from beyond the arc when he does get on the court, averaging 2.3 treys a game.
“He’s getting some playing time and doing something with it,” said Bulls point guard John Lucas III, who played with Novak in Houton during the 2006-07 season. “He’s been playing great lately. He’s one of the most dangerous shooters in the league. He’s really good at what he does, which is catch and shoot.”
Bulls head coach Tom Thibodeau was an assistant coach for the Rockets during that same season and had a chance to work with Novak during the sharpshooter’s rookie season.
“He’s persevered through a lot of stuff, as well, so it’s a credit to him,” Thibodeau said. “He’s got one skill that he does as great as anyone in the league: He can shoot. If you leave him open, he can hurt you. He’s a great kid, a hard worker and a good team guy. I’m happy for him.”
Kyle Korver, on the other hand, is averaging 1.7 threes a game, but has appeared in every single Bulls contest so far this season. He drained 289 three-pointers last year for the Bulls and set an NBA record by shooting 53.6 percent from behind the arc in the 2009-10 season.
CSNChicago.com caught up with Novak prior to Monday’s Bulls-Knicks matchup and the forward had some nice words for his Chicago counterpart.
“Kyle is obviously one of the most highly regarded shooters in the NBA,” Novak said. “If you go down team-to-team-to-team, it’s hard to find a guy who comes up better. He’s always being aggressive.
“A guy like him is who I watched a lot of film on. I watched how he used screens, how he never stopped moving, that kind of thing.”
Korver, in turn, said he believes Novak is one of the top two-to-three shooters in the league.
Monday’s matchup proved to be a bit of a letdown, as the two sharpshooters combined for just three three-pointers. Korver was 2-of-4 from deep while Novak was 1-of-4 from beyond the arc.
But who would win in a good, old-fashioned three-point competition?
Korver picked himself, saying “a big part of shooting is confidence. You always have to believe in yourself.”
Novak echoed those sentiments and mirrored Korver’s answer.
“I think he’s right,” Novak said about Korver’s comments. “If you put the top shooters in the gym anywhere, I believe it’s going to be hard to find one consistent winner. On any given moment, especially with shooting drills, anybody can win.
“If you make five in a row, you win. All you have to do is miss one and you lost. [A three-point competition with Korver] might go back and forth a little bit.”