NEW ORLEANS (AP) Anthony Davis has noticed the work Pelicans guard Tyreke Evans has put in after practice this season to develop his outside shot.
So when Sacramento defenders repeatedly darted under screens to cut off Evans’ lane to the hoop, Davis saw an obvious solution.
”I told him, `If they keep going under, shoot the ball,”’ Davis recalled. ”He made them pay.”
Evans had 25 points and 10 assists, and the New Orleans Pelicans snapped a four-game losing streak with a 102-88 victory over Sacramento on Friday night. Evans hit twice from 3-point range and seven times in all from 18 feet or beyond.
”I think guys don’t respect him (on the perimeter) because they don’t think he can shoot,” Davis said. ”But like I said, he’s been working on it.”
Davis had 24 points, nine rebounds and six blocks for New Orleans, which has 10 games left to make up three on Oklahoma City for the final playoff spot in the Western Conference. Quincy Pondexter added 16 points and Norris Cole 12 for the Pelicans.
DeMarcus Cousins had 39 points and 20 rebounds for the Kings, who saw their four-game winning streak snapped.
”They came out with a lot of energy, feeding off Cuz,” Davis said about the Kings and their All-Star center. ”We just tried to let him do what he does and just realize one man is not going to beat us.”
Rudy Gay added 18 points and Omri Casspi 10 for Sacramento.
Omer Asik had 12 rebounds for the Pelicans, who outrebounded Sacramento 47-37.
”We just seemed to be a step behind,” Kings coach George Karl said. ”We struggled getting our offense in a flow tonight, but credit the Pelicans and how they defended.”
Karl also credited Evans for playing ”under control.”
”Tonight was the best demeanor I’ve seen him have,” Karl said. ”He was content taking what the defense gave him.”
The 6-foot-6 Evans, who began the season playing mostly small forward or shooting guard, said he has become increasingly comfortable with the point guard spot he inherited because of Jrue Holiday’s prolonged absence with a lower right leg injury.
”I’ve had enough time to be at this position,” Evans said. ”I’m just working at it every day, you know, just trying to make this team better and do what I got to do for us to win. If it’s a scoring night, passing night, I’ve just got to be out there to help us.”
Pondexter hit four 3-pointers, and the Pelicans combined for nine as a team on 20 attempts.
Sacramento led by as many as five points in the third quarter, but the Pelicans surged in front with a 8-0 run capped by Pondexter’s consecutive 3s.
Cousins’ alley-oop dunk briefly pulled the Kings to 64-62, but New Orleans responded with a 10-1 run during which Evans and Davis each hit a pair of field goals.
New Orleans then all but put the game away by opening the fourth quarter on a 14-4 run with Cole and Toney Douglas each hitting 3s and combining for 10 points.
Cousins had 23 points, nine rebounds and two blocks in the first half alone, but it wasn’t enough to give the Kings the lead.
New Orleans turned 10 offensive rebounds into 13 second-chance points in the opening two quarters. Evans had 11 early pints and Pondexter 10 to help the Pelicans take a 46-42 halftime lead.
Kings: Cousins has 44 double-doubles this season, second only to Pau Gasol’s 47 in the NBA. … The Kings fell a victory short of matching their season high win streak of five set from Oct. 31-Nov. 7.
Pelicans: Davis has put up as many as 24 points, nine rebounds and six blocks in a game seven times this season. No other NBA player has done so once. … Davis has 44 blocks in March. … New Orleans improved to 24-13 at home.
The Pelicans were the first team to hold the Kings below 100 points in seven games. In addition to the strong rebounding of Asik and Davis, coach Monty Williams credited reserve guards Cole and Douglas for the way they defended Kings ball-handlers.
”Their defensive pressure allowed us to get out in transition,” Williams said. ”So, great defensive effort, great team effort.”