Martin scores 39 in Arco return as Rockets ruin Kings’ home finale
SACRAMENTO – The result of the final home game of the year for the Sacramento Kings was secondary. Having Tyreke Evans reach an exclusive milestone was the main goal.
Evans achieved that, although not without plenty of trouble, scoring 24 points to join a club that includes only Oscar Robertson, Michael Jordan and LeBron James in the Kings 117-107 loss to the Houston Rockets.
With only one game remaining in the season, Evans is assured of averaging at least 20 points, five rebounds and five assists a game. Evans joins those three all-time greats as the only rookies ever to reach those marks.
“That’s just an elite three right there,” Evans said. “To have my name added is just a blessing.”
Evans was outplayed by his former backcourt mate Kevin Martin, who scored 39 points in his first game in Sacramento since being traded to Houston in February.
After scoring 22 points in the first 23 minutes, Evans only needed two more to reach the milestone at home. The Kings end the season Tuesday night in Los Angeles against the Lakers.
Each time he touched the ball, music played, the fans stood and cheered and everybody knew he would try to shoot. But Evans forced up three missed shots in the final minute of the first half, extending the wait for the only thing that mattered at the end of another lost season for the Kings.
“That kind of messed me up a little bit,” Evans said. “They wanted me to get it so bad, they kept going to me. We played against a good team. They’re a smart team. They knew what was happening.”
The drought continued in the second half and Evans missed eight shots in a row before being replaced by Francisco Garcia late in the third quarter. That helped Houston rally from 14 points down in the first half to take an 88-85 lead after three.
Evans missed his first shot of the fourth, extending the drought to nine missed shots, including eight that would have given him the milestone.
“This game was more about extraneous things more than the actual wins or losses,” Kings coach Paul Westphal said. “I think the players sensed that.”
He got an ovation when he went to the foul line with 6:46 to go and calmly made the first. Then, with the entire crowd standing and Martin giving him either words of encouragement or a bit of trash-talking, Evans swished the second to reach the mark.
“I didn’t even know what was going on,” Rockets coach Rick Adelman said. “Then finally they put 20-5-5 up there. I was more than happy to let him have that and we will take the win and go home.”
Evans then got an even louder ovation at the next timeout when the Kings posted a graphic acknowledging the accomplishment and he waved to the adoring crowd. Evans finished with 24 points, six rebounds and four assists.
Martin shot 11 for 20 and made all 16 free throws he attempted. Trevor Ariza added 29 points, including two key 3-pointers down the stretch that helped ensure the Rockets (42-39) will finish with a winning record this season.
Martin, who led the Kings in scoring the past three seasons, got a nice ovation when he was introduced in his first game back at Arco Arena since being traded to Houston in February. He visited with Kings assistant Pete Carril before the game and ran over to give Westphal a hug just before the opening tip.
Kings fans cheered his first basket and gave him another ovation when a video tribute played on the scoreboard during a timeout in the first quarter.
They then grew frustrated as he successfully used his head fakes to draw fouls just as he did during his 51/2 years in Sacramento. After one move, Carl Landry went back to the bench muttering, “He set me up.”
“There was a lot of emotions running through my body tonight,” Martin said. “I saw a lot of people wearing my jersey. It was like I was playing a home game. That made me feel good and proud of what I did here.”
Landry, who was traded for Martin in February, added 19 points for Sacramento.
NOTES: Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson and California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger sat together courtside. … The Kings picked up the option on Westphal’s contract for 2011-12 before the game. … The Kings have lost 10 of 11 games. … Martin finished the year with the highest scoring game at Arco Arena by a Kings player with 48 against Memphis on Nov. 2, and matched Dirk Nowitzki for the most by a visiting player.
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