Evans leads Grizzlies past Kings
SACRAMENTO, Calif. — Guard Tyreke Evans appeared to be close to the end of the line during his second tour of duty with the Sacramento Kings last season.
Looks can be deceiving.
Evans is enjoying a revival at age 28, and he helped the Memphis Grizzlies leave the Kings in the dust on Sunday. The veteran guard, in his ninth season, scored a game-high 26 points in 26 minutes as Memphis won 114-96 at the Golden 1 Center.
“He’s on a mission right now,” Grizzlies interim coach J.B. Bickerstaff said.
“It’s not a personal mission, which is the best part about it. He’s unselfish in what he’s doing. He’s helping our team in a multitude of ways. He knows we need him to score the ball, but if you look at some of the passes he made today and in other games, you know he’s playing for the team.”
Evans canned 10 of 16 shots from the field and made 5 of 7 3-point attempts. He added five assists and six rebounds before sitting out the fourth quarter.
Jarell Martin scored 11 points, and no other Memphis player scored more than 10 in the Grizzlies’ third victory in five games. Memphis (12-25) had lost 19 of its previous 21 before that five-game stretch.
In those five games, Evans is averaging 27.0 points on 51.6 percent shooting. He looks nothing like the player who averaged 11.6 points in 14 contests with Sacramento last season during his second stint with the club that drafted him with the fourth overall pick in 2009.
“I feel good,” he said. “Over the summer, I got into the best shape of my life. I wanted to prove to everyone that I can still play.”
Against Sacramento, Evans helped Memphis top the 100-point mark for the third consecutive game. The Grizzlies passed that marker in only three of their previous 12 games before that stretch.
“If you take a look at our last five games, our scoring is up, our field-goal percentage is up, and our assists are up,” Bickerstaff said.
The Grizzlies again played without guard Mike Conley, out since Nov. 13 because a left heel injury. Forward Chandler Parsons also sat out against Sacramento because of a sore right knee.
Willie Cauley-Stein scored 21 points and pulled down eight rebounds to pace Sacramento (12-24), but the Kings lost for the second straight time and for the fourth time in five contests.
“Tough night,” Kings coach Dave Joerger said. “I don’t know if we just exhaled from being at home or relaxed after being on the road. But that was not a good performance.”
Buddy Hield scored 15 points, and Garrett Temple added 13 points on 6-of-9 shooting for the Kings. However, center Zach Randolph scored only four points on 2-of-7 shooting in his first game against the team for which he played eight seasons.
The Kings are 1-2 halfway through a six-game homestand that will match their longest of the season.
Sacramento rookie guard Frank Mason didn’t return after landing awkwardly and bruising his right heel while trying to rebound a missed free throw at the first-quarter buzzer. Mason made two free throws and missed a third when he was awarded the foul shots after a lengthy review following a missed half-court shot at the first-quarter buzzer.
NOTES: Memphis G Mike Conley is traveling with the team and has taken part in practices, as well as a pregame workout before Saturday’s contest at Golden State, the Memphis Commercial-Appeal reported. Conley has missed 24 straight games with a left heel injury. ... Kings G De’Aaron Fox, initially listed as doubtful for Sunday’s game, missed his sixth straight contest with a partial tear of his right quadriceps muscle. Sacramento has not said when he will return. The Kings finished the game without both of their rookie point guards after Frank Mason injured his left heel at the end of the first quarter. ... Grizzlies C Marc Gasol, who scored seven points in 24 minutes, on his first match-up against former teammate Zach Randolph: “So many things go through your head, so many emotions. He’s a brother to me.” ... Kings F Skal Labiessiere, who scored 12 points in a start against Phoenix on Friday after sitting out three straight games, returned to the bench and scored six points with one rebound in 17 minutes.