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News » Kirilenko climbing blocks list

Kirilenko climbing blocks list

Kirilenko climbing blocks list He used to do it at a much more outrageous rate. But Andrei Kirilenko still is swatting at quite a clip, and soon ? perhaps sometime in the remaining five outings of a six-game homestand, which includes tonight's meeting with Kevin Durant and the Oklahoma City Thunder ? the forward from Russia should tie and move past Greg Ostertag for second place on the Jazz's all-time blocked shots list.

Mark Eaton, the retired Jazz center who stands 7-foot-4, remains out of everyone's reach with 3,064 blocks during his 11 seasons in Utah. Eaton led the NBA in average blocks per game for four of five seasons from 1983-88. He also holds the Jazz blocks record in almost every statistical category imaginable, from his league-record 5.56 per game in 1984-85 to best individual games (he has the first seven and 11 of Utah's top 12, including two with 14) to most in a season (an NBA-high 456 in '84-85) to career average (a league-best 3.51) to even most in a half (nine). But the lanky Kirilenko is no slouch, amassing 1,250 to date early in his ninth season with the franchise. He needs just three to tie and four to pass the 7-2 Ostertag, who played 10 seasons with the Jazz . Longevity, 6-9 Kirilenko suggested, has something to do with the feat. And he wasn't talking height. "I've been here a long time," said Kirilenko, who has spent his entire NBA career in Utah. But there's much more to it than that. The 2004 NBA All-Star always has had a nose for the ball and a knack for sliding over from the weak side to reject the best attempts of often unsuspecting shooters. Kirilenko ? the star of Russia's 2007 EuroBasket-champion national team, and flagbearer for the country during opening ceremonies at the 2008 Olympic Games in China ? led the NBA in blocks per game at 3.32 during an injury-marred 2004-05 season, and amassed a league-high 220 the next season. Yet he shrugs off the notion that there is a science to the art. "It happens as it comes," said Kirilenko, who blocked one shot while also scoring 22 points and pulling down 10 rebounds in the Jazz's overtime win over Detroit on Saturday night. "It don't really think about blocks," he added. "I don't think you can really practice it. . . . It's only, like, a situation." But it's not nearly simple as that sounds, and the small forward who lately has been coming off the bench for the 7-6 Jazz ? winners of three straight ? concedes as much. He doesn't want to give away all of his secrets, but does say that one of the keys is "probably, choosing position rather than athletic abilities." "I mean, athletic ability helps," said Kirilenko, the Jazz's highest-paid player this season at $16,442,000 on a 14-man team with an $82 million payroll. "But it's not that it is a crucial part. I think position-wise (is), and you kind of study people ? what they can do, and what they usually do." He has a book on, in other words, opposing shooters. Kirilenko's average of blocks per game, though, has dwindled from its peak of 3.32 five seasons ago to 3.19 the following season, 2.06 in 2006-07, 1.54 in '07-08 and 1.15 last season. "During the years, people get used (to it)," said Kirilenko, who is averaging 1.2 through 13 games this season ? with no more three in any one game, which falls seven shy of his personal-record high of 10 in a March 2006 game against Sacramento. "They know I'm pretty good at blocking shots, so they're not really bringing it as easy as early in my career," he added. "Because nobody really (knew) then. But during the years it developed." And that forces Kirilenko to rely more and more on his shot-blocker's mentality, even if he adamantly insists he doesn't consciously ponder when the next swat might come ? or how he'll go about getting it. "It's always hard to explain how you're blocking shots," Kirilenko said. "It just happens. You don't think about it, definitely." SWAT STORY With Andrei Kirilenko about to move into second place, a look at the all-time shot-block leaders in Jazz history: 1. Mark Eaton ? 3,064 in 11 seasons, 874 games 2. Greg Ostertag ? 1,253 in 10 seasons, 700 games 3. *Andrei Kirilenko ? 1,250 in nine seasons, 574 games 4. Karl Malone ? 1,125 in 18 seasons, 1,434 games 5. Thurl Bailey? 879 in 10 seasons, 708 games * Still active email:

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Added: November 25, 2009


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