SALT LAKE CITY — Utah Jazz head coach Quin Snyder anticipated the home crowd would give Kyle Korver a nice reception in his return to Salt Lake City. But he still may have undersold it.
There weren’t many of the pink Korver Jazz jerseys that became such a staple of the Utah crowd during his first stint in Utah. But there was a partial standing ovation when he checked in for the first and there was the same air of anticipation every time he released a shot.
This much was clear: Jazz fans had missed Korver.
Moments after he checked in for the first time during the Jazz’s 139-105 win over Spurs on Tuesday at Vivint Arena, Korver curled around a screen, got the ball and let a 3-pointer fly.
Fans began to lift from their chairs as the ball soared through the air and arms started to raise. But instead of a loud cheer, there was an audible groan. The shot bounced off the rim. The celebration would have to wait.
“Yeah, I missed the first one,” Korver said. “I thought I had that one. You could feel that excitement.”
He didn’t miss many more. Korver drained his next 3-point attempt and went on to score 15 points on 5-for-8 shooting (3-for-4 from deep). It was a near-perfect reunion — a blowout win, Korver showing he’s still nearly automatic and the rest of the team joining in on that hot shooting. Not a lot went wrong.
Well, maybe until after the final buzzer sounded and Donovan Mitchell sprayed Korver with actual Gatorade instead of the regular water during Korver’s walk-off interview (Mitchell apologized for the mistake). But aside from that, it was a dream second beginning for Korver in Salt Lake City.
The Jazz had a day off on Monday following a three-game road swing and Korver used it to get reacquainted with Utah.
“Woke up to a whole bunch of snow,” Korver said. “Which is good. Beautiful snow.”
The winters haven’t changed from the last time he was here. But many things have. The Jazz’s practice facility underwent a significant renovation, so did the Vivint Arena and even Salt Lake City looks different.
“I came here to the (practice) facility, saw it for the first time, trying to get my feel for everything,” Korver said of his first day back in Utah. “Bounced around trying to find somewhere to live. … You come in here and obviously the mountains. There are a lot of changes in the city — a lot of projects, a lot of building, a lot of great stuff going on in the city. Hopefully, in the next week, I’ll be able to get around time and soak it all in.”
He’s quickly been soaking in who the Jazz are. From how they play on the court and how things are run now. He’s been impressed with both.
You come in here and obviously the mountains. There are a lot of changes in the city — a lot of projects, a lot of building, a lot of great stuff going on in the city." - Kyle Korver
“They have thought through everything,” Korver said. “I think Quin and Dennis (Lindsey), everyone here, they have a real vision of what they want the Jazz to be, and how they want them to operate. This (practice facility) reflects that. … I think they went to the Millers with a long list of how things should be and the Millers said yes to everything. That’s amazing.”
As for how the Jazz play, Korver feels it fits his skill set. It’s a system designed to generate a high number of open looks by ball movement, off-ball screens and a lot of motion — all things Korver likes to do. And he has played in a similar system in Atlanta where he excelled in it.
“He’s an experienced player that has been in a lot of different situations,” Snyder said. “He’s going to borrow from that knowledge and every program, every system is a little different. There are concepts and if you focus on those concepts, I think you get a familiarity and a comfort level that happens quickly enough, you hope.”
Korver looked pretty comfortable on Tuesday night.
But he anticipates even more learning will come when he masters everything about the sophisticated Jazz offense. And that’s because of who his coach is. For the one season Snyder was an assistant with the Hawks, Korver and he worked together every day. Their sessions rarely included just Korver putting up shots. Instead, they would talk about basketball, share theories, figure out how to get better looks. And Snyder hasn’t changed.
“You never know what’s going on inside his head,” Korver said. “I think he has a few things he wants to do with me. I think he wanted to put me back in the game because he had a play he wanted to run.”
Snyder will have plenty of opportunities to run that and many more plays for his newest player.
And Jazz fans will be eagerly waiting to cheer for each one.