It was the same old script for the Sacramento Kings on Monday night—solid if uninspired performance for most of the game, finished off with a fourth quarter of terrible offense and even worse defense. This time, though, it was a familiar face doing damage for the other side.
In his first game against the Kings, Tyreke Evans blasted the Kings for 25 points, 12 assists, six rebounds and three steals in the Pelicans 113-100 victory.
DeMarcus Cousins had 24 points and 14 rebounds in the loss and struggled to stay on the floor thanks to foul trouble. Isaiah Thomas added in 21 points and five assists, but Rudy Gay had his worst performance in a Kings uniform, going 2-12 from the field and offering little defensive resistance against Tyreke.
Terrific Tyreke: Evans looked pleased to play his old mates and took advantage against any defender the Kings through at him. Ben McLemore, Marcus Thornton and Gay all had their shots but couldn’t contain Evans. McLemore was the least effective when trying to guard either Evans or Eric Gordon (17 points, 6-13 FG) and the rookie McLemore managed just 23 minutes of action, going 1-2 from the field for three points.
You’d think that some familiarity with Evans would give the Kings some knowledge of how to slow him down, but Evans managed to get plenty of good drives to the basket and sent himself to the free throw line 12 times, hitting 11 of them. While Evans is coming off the bench for the Pelicans, New Orleans’ best lineup was with Evans playing small forward next to Jrue Holiday (17 points, 10 assists, 7-13 FG) and Gordon.
Cousins Shines Despite Foul Trouble: Cousins played well against an elite level defender in Anthony Davis, getting 24 points on 7-15 shooting and 10-17 free throws. The battle of the Kentucky big men would have gone on much longer if Cousins had managed to stay in the game. He missed 18 minutes of much needed action, including a good chunk of the fourth quarter when the Kings needed him badly.
Fourth Quarter Collapse: The game was tied at 77-77 to start the final period, but once the Pelicans put their starters back in (with Evans, who filled in for Al-Farouq Aminu) they took control and never gave the momentum back. The Kings couldn’t stop Evans or Anthony Davis (21 points, 11 rebounds, 6-15 FG) and continued to turn the ball over (finishing with 22 turnovers in the game).
Fourth quarters have been the major problem for Sacramento recently after similar finishes against Charlotte, Atlanta and Miami in the past week. It doesn’t get any easier from here, though—the Kings next contest is a repeat against Miami, and the champs floored the Kings 122-103 on Friday.