- Nick Friedell, Chicago Bulls beat reporter
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CHICAGO -- Kyle Korver is quick to admit he wasn't supposed to be the one taking the most important shot of the game Saturday night.
As is the case with seemingly everything else in the Chicago Bulls' world, Derrick Rose was supposed to take the team's most important shot of the night. With the Bulls trailing by one point and just more than 30 seconds left on the clock, the young point guard drove to the rim and put up a short jump that didn't go down. Carlos Boozer tried to tip the ball back in, but that didn't fall, either. Then, almost out of nowhere, Korver appeared at the right place and the right time for the Bulls.
"He got the ball, had his feet set, it's a corner shot," Rose said. "He could shoot that shot with his eyes closed. It's going to go in."
Korver drained the 3 and gave the Bulls a 98-96 lead that they would not relinquish.
"It wasn't drawn up for me; it was a loose ball," Korver said. "But no matter how the game's going, no matter how much I've played, I know that if there's going to be a shot taken at the end of the game, I'm probably going to be in the game. Maybe not to shoot it, but to space the floor. So I've always got to be ready."
For the first time in weeks, the veteran guard was able to feel the type of relief that comes only when you help lead your team to victory.
"It's been a frustrating shooting month for me," Korver admitted. "This has been probably the most frustrating shooting month I've had in my life. It's been really tough, but you just got to stay ready."
Korver was ready when the moment arose Saturday night. Unlike several other attempts from the field earlier in the game, he showed no hesitation when it came to knocking down the big shot as the clock wound down.
"I just went after it and grabbed it, and everyone was kind of flying by me the other way," he said. "And I took a dribble, and I was open. [I] just wanted to hit it."
His teammates never had a doubt that he would. They never lost confidence in the sharpshooter's ability, even if the man himself was starting to have a few doubts.
"Honestly, Kyle can be 0-for-30, and he catches the ball on the 3-point line, and I'll put my money [down] that he'll make it," Bulls forward Luol Deng said. "He's just that kind of shooter. We all believe in him. And there's so many games in the NBA; everyone goes through slumps. We still know that Kyle's the best shooter on our team."
That sentiment was echoed over and over again in the Bulls’ locker room.
"He hit the big shot," Rose said. "He deserves all of the attention that he's getting. I told him if that shot doesn't get him going, I don't know what will."
As much as Korver tried to downplay that he never lost confidence in his ability to knock down shots from the outside, his 12-for-42 clip from behind the arc since Dec. 22 tells a different story. He needed this shot badly, and everybody knew it.
"It feels good to win a game," he said. "And to be a part of it for sure. It's been a pretty frustrating month. I feel like I'm about clear of that. I've been feeling a lot better. ... I just got to find it in games."
The Bulls are just glad he did, at least for one night, when they needed it the most.
Kyle Korver was an unlikely hero for the Bulls on Saturday.