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Kyle Korver, 'American Eagle' to the Cavaliers, soars in Indiana

INDIANAPOLIS -- One month and one day after the Cleveland Cavaliers acquired Kyle Korver in the surprise trade of the NBA season so far, the assassin went out and put on a performance unlike anything we've seen out of him in almost 10 years.

Korver scored 29 points on 12 shots in Cleveland's 132-117 win over the Indiana Pacers on Wednesday.

Before we get into what it felt like for him to be the brightest star on a team that's sending three All-Stars to New Orleans or the significance on what he could mean to the Cavs when they're fully healthy, his stats are worth diving into.

  • His 8-for-9 mark from 3-point range tied the most 3s he has ever made in a game

  • He went 5-for-5 from 3-point range off passes from LeBron James

  • He went 5-for-5 on corner 3s

  • He went 5-for-5 on uncontested 3s (yes, some of these are overlapping stats, as in he hit at least one uncontested 3 in the corner off a James feed)

  • He went 3-for-3 on transition 3s

  • He hit at least one 3 against three Pacers defenders (all that good stuff courtesy of ESPN Stats & Information)

One of those defenders was Glenn Robinson III. The Pacers' athletic wing player is 12 years younger than Korver and is going to compete in the dunk contest. Not an ideal cover, to put it politely. But even he was no match for Korver on Wednesday.

"He had some open looks, he had some decent looks and he had a not-so-decent look that he made anyways," James said. "The one by our bench that he caught that was thrown all the way over the top to our bench, and he just looked at the floor, and Glenn Robinson III was right in his face, and he still shot it? That's just a sharpshooter right there."

While the Cavs turned very little into a whole lot of something when they swapped Mike Dunleavy (who lost so much confidence in Cleveland that he was turning down open looks) and Mo Williams (a dead contract they wanted to move to open up a roster spot) into a former All-Star in Korver, the onboarding process didn't go so smoothly for him.

"I came in, and I was like, 'Is this my fault?' I come in, and we're losing games," Korver told ESPN's Lisa Salters last week. "I was like, 'Should I be on edge about this?' But no one is overly concerned."

Nor were they worried about how Korver would eventually find his place.

"We just want to get better and better every day," James said. "Kyle is getting more and more comfortable with what we want to do offensively and defensively. And I think he watches a lot of film and he's like, those first couple games are just frustrating to him because he's like, 'I don't know nothing, so I'm just out here running around. I don't know nothing, and I'm getting thrown into the fire, and people are expecting me to do a lot.' But at the end of the day, we just want him to fit in like he's been doing, and tonight was a prime example of it."

Seeing Korver go bananas, extending the Cavs' hot run to six wins in their past seven games while beating a Pacers team that had won seven straight, was all well and good. But ultimately, all the Cavs will need out of him is floor-spacing ability, solid team defense and some timely shots should J.R. Smith come back fully healthy in the playoffs.

"Nothing gets a shooter open like more shooters," Korver said.

And there are plenty of them on the Cavs, with James even putting up career numbers from deep.

Nope, Korver won't be asked to do much more than get open, wear out the defense with his off-ball pinball-like motion and know his role. There might not be nights as special as Wednesday, so it's worth mentioning that the last time he put up this many points he was playing for Philadelphia alongside Joe Smith against a New York Knicks team featuring Stephon Marbury and Eddy Curry.

Korver will continue to become part of the Cavs' culture, whether it be through experiencing his first postgame awards ceremony, where Cleveland honors whatever achievement a player reaches -- tonight it was James congratulating Korver in front of the whole locker room for passing Jason Kidd for seventh all-time in 3-pointers -- or even picking up a new nickname. James bestowed upon Korver the nickname "American Eagle," inspired by the intricate tattoo of a bald eagle he has etched on the left side of his body spanning from his rib cage to abdomen.

And Korver will continue to make the Cavs that much more dangerous to opposing defenses.

"Tonight they decided to give him the 3," Cavs coach Tyronn Lue said of Indiana, "which is not very good."