Evans helps Kings beat Clippers, snap eight-game skid
SACRAMENTO – With the end of the season approaching, Sacramento’s Tyreke Evans has more on his mind right now than figuring out where to spend his vacation time.
Regarded as the frontrunner for Rookie of the Year, Evans has a chance to become just the fourth player to finish his inaugural season averaging 20 points, five rebounds and five assists.
Evans surpassed all three of those numbers Thursday night against the Los Angeles Clippers, getting 28 points, six rebounds and seven assists to help the Kings snap an eight-game losing streak with a 116-94 victory.
Already assured of averaging more than five rebounds and five assists per game, Evans needs 51 points in his final three games to average 20 points and join Oscar Robertson, Michael Jordan and LeBron James in accomplishing the feat.
Evans modestly downplays the achievement, but his brothers and close friends are keeping track and making sure the talented rookie guard knows where he stands. Evans says if he could cast a vote for Rookie of the Year he would put a check by his own name.
“Of course I would, why wouldn’t I (vote for myself)?” he said.
The Clippers’ lethargic defense was no match for Evans, who came out aggressive with 10 first-quarter points. He shot 12 of 19 from the field, 4 for 5 on free throws and added two steals.
“He would be my Rookie of the Year,” Clippers interim coach Kim Hughes said. “I thought he was terrific tonight. He bullied us, dribbled with his big body. He’s quicker than we are and he’s strong, and he got to any spot on the floor when he wanted to.”
After the Clippers cut Sacramento’s 16-point halftime to eight after three quarters, the Kings came out with a 16-2 to run to start the fourth in pushing their lead to 100-78. It was the first time in nine games that the Kings topped 100 points.
“We didn’t compete tonight,” Clippers forward Drew Gooden said. “I don’t know as far as our future and how we are going to play the rest of the games, but we didn’t compete tonight. We competed last game. tonight we competed only in stretches.”
Chris Kaman scored 23 points for the Clippers, who have lost seven straight and are 3-19 since Feb. 24. Eric Gordon had 21 points, Gooden scored 17 and Baron Davis had 11 points and 10 assists.
Jason Thompson had 22 points and 15 rebounds for the Kings, who outscored the Clippers 32-18 in the fourth quarter. Carl Landry added 14 points and 10 rebounds, and Francisco Garcia and Beno Udrih scored 12 points each.
“Jason played like an All-Star tonight, he was a superstar,” Landry said. “When I was in Houston playing against him he was a player that I just hated playing against. He continues to attack the boards and stays aggressive. He’s a tough player that players don’t like to play against.”
The Clippers finished with a road record of 8-33 this season and have just three wins outside of Los Angeles since Dec. 19. Hughes is 6-23 since replacing Mike Dunleavy on Feb. 6.
Trailing by 16 points at the half, the Clippers came out with some energy in the third quarter behind the inside play of Kaman. He made six of seven shots and scored 13 points to help the Clippers cut the Sacramento lead to 84-76 heading into the fourth.
With the Clippers seemingly uninterested in playing defense during the first half, Evans was regularly penetrating for layups, hitting open jumpers or finding teammates. He had 17 points, five rebounds and five assists in helping the Kings to a 63-47 lead.
Notes: The teams combined for only 10 first-half free throws. … The Clippers’ Travis Outlaw missed his third straight game with a strained right groin. … The Kings held a 29-13 rebounding edge in the first half.
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