Rookie Evans leads Kings to road win at Utah
November 8, 2009
SALT LAKE CITY – Rookie Tyreke Evans did his best to make up for Kevin Martin’s absence in the Sacramento Kings’ backcourt.
Evans scored a season-high 32 points and the Kings held off the Utah Jazz 104-99 on Saturday night in their first game without the high-scoring Martin.
Evans, the fourth pick in the June draft, became the focal point of the offense in place of Martin, who averaged 30.6 points in the first five games. Martin will have surgery Monday to repair a fracture in his left wrist and may be out for two months.
The Kings relied on Evans creating off the dribble along with drive-and-kicks to perimeter players standing ready to shoot at the 3-point line. Evans made 16 of 19 free throws as he repeatedly drew fouls on his way to the basket.
“My confidence is up. When I see guys like D-Will step on the court, I just want to go in there and attack. I want to put the pressure on them and I think I did that tonight,” Evans said.
The Kings led by 20 points in the fourth quarter before Deron Williams’ 3-pointer sparked a comeback attempt. Williams, who had 29 points and 15 assists, found Mehmet Okur for a 3-pointer to trim the lead to five at 97-92 with 58.6 seconds left.
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But the Kings grabbed two offensive rebounds in the final minute and the Jazz ran out of time.
“It shows a lot about the heart of our team,” Sacramento coach Paul Westphal said. “It’s really hard for anybody to come in here and get a win. The fact that we got off to a bad start and then still found a way to win against a very good team, it makes me feel very proud of these guys.”
Evans scored just three of the Kings’ 127 points earlier this week against Memphis in their only other win this season, but showed he has the offensive firepower to step into Martin’s role while he is out six to eight weeks.
“I was pressing early in the season but coach got me in the film room and we went over some things,” Evans said. “I saw ways I could get better and I felt ready to step up tonight.”
Beno Udrih got loose for two layups in the final 1:08 and finished with 15 points while Andres Nocioni added 14 for Sacramento. Nocioni had four 3-pointers as the Kings made 11 of 19 from beyond the arc.
Carlos Boozer had 16 points and 17 rebounds, and Okur added 16 points for the Jazz. Utah lost for the third time in the last four games and marked the first time it has started a season with a 2-4 record since the 2002-03 campaign.
After the Jazz scored the first five points of the second half, the Kings ran off 19 consecutive points, capped by a 3-pointer by Evans.
“I got a rhythm. I felt like I was unstoppable getting to the basket,” Evans said.
The Jazz finally ended their drought, which included 10 straight empty possessions, when Paul Millsap made a layup.
But the Kings weren’t finished. Udrih made another 3-pointer to finish the astounding 26-2 run with 1:44 left in the third quarter.
“They really gave us some trouble, especially in the third quarter. They were making every shot. I’m happy we fought back but it wasn’t enough,” Andrei Kirilenko said.
The Jazz swept the Kings last season and seemed poised to hand them another blowout as Utah led by as many as 15 in the first half. But Sacramento closed the gap and the teams went into halftime knotted at 55.
“It was a bad game for us, period. We had a 15-point lead in the second quarter and then just let it slip away. Then the third quarter was even worse,” Williams said.
NOTES: Evans went to the locker room briefly in the third quarter after Williams shoulder hit his jaw on a drive and left him with a split tongue and a bloody mouth. … Evans’ previous scoring high was 22 in the second game of the season at New Orleans. … The Jazz outscored the Kings in the paint 50-32.