Kings 107, Raptors 100

Tyreke Evans has been a solid scorer throughout his four-year

NBA career. Still, the one thing he’s always lacked is a consistent

outside shot.

Evans made two consecutive 3-pointers late in the game and

teammate DeMarcus Cousins had 25 points and 13 rebounds to help the

Sacramento Kings beat the struggling Toronto Raptors 107-100 on

Wednesday night.

The Kings used strong fourth-quarter play from Cousins and Evans

to earn a rare victory. Sacramento had dropped nine of its previous

11 games, including an embarrassing 35-point loss Sunday against

the Los Angeles Clippers.

Evans, back in the starting lineup after missing the past two

games with a bruised left knee, scored 10 of his 23 points in the

fourth quarter. The point total wasn’t a surprise, but hitting

back-to-back 3s was unexpected. Evans entered the season as a 25

percent career shooter from 3-point territory and had made six of

22 attempts this season.

With the game tied at 95, Evans put the Kings on top for good

with a 3-pointer, then connected on another one from the same spot

30 seconds later, giving Sacramento 101-95 lead with 1:43

remaining. Both times Evans stared at the Toronto bench defiantly

after sinking his shot.

”I’m happy for him, especially on his outside shooting,” said

Cousins, who scored seven points in the final 5:28. ”If Tyreke

gets confidence in that shot he’s going to be an incredible

player.”

Kyle Lowry had a huge second half, scoring 29 points. He pulled

the Raptors within four on his fourth 3 of the game with 18 seconds

left, but the Kings made free throws to secure the victory.

”Tyreke made two huge 3s and pretty much put the game away,”

Lowry said. ”He’s just coming off an injury, so I know he’s not

100 percent. But those 3s showed how he is a big-time competitor.

And Cousins is just a bull. He’s very talented and everyone knows

that.”

It’s been a rare occurrence this season when both Cousins and

Evans are major offensive contributors.

But that was the case against the Raptors.

”That’s very important. I think it starts with us two. DeMarcus

in the post and me in the pick-and-rolls getting into the paint,”

Evans said. ”That’s one of the things I wanted to do tonight,

drive the ball and get fouled.”

Evans started slow, missing his first four shots in the first

quarter. He had seven points at halftime but began connecting in

the third and finished 7 of 16. He struggled a bit from the free

throw line, shooting 7 of 12.

”I thought he was pressing in his first game back,” Kings

coach Keith Smart said. ”But he settled down and he didn’t force

the issue.”

Jason Thompson added 13 points and 10 rebounds for the Kings,

while John Salmons scored 12 and Aaron Brooks 11.

Lowry had a season-high 34 points, two below his career best. He

also added 11 assists and five rebounds for the Raptors, who have

lost two straight and eight of nine.

Mickael Pietrus scored 21 points, DeMar DeRozan added 14 and Ed

Davis chipped in 13 points and 11 rebounds.

”That’s the ballgame right there: They had 56 points in the

paint,” Toronto coach Dwane Casey said. ”They had their way with

us in the paint. Everybody’s going to look at Tyreke Evans. He hit

two 3s and he hit six all season. We did the right thing trying to

protect the paint.”

After Lowry hit a 3 and followed with a shot from close range,

Cousins responded with a three-point play and a jumper, tying the

score at 91 with 4:31 to go. A left-handed shot off the glass by

Cousins put the Kings ahead 95-93 with 2:36 left.

Pietrus made a pair of free throws early in the fourth quarter,

concluding a 22-5 run that began midway through the third. But the

Kings rallied quickly, taking an 85-84 lead on Jimmer Fredette’s

runner in the lane at the 8:09 mark.

”You can’t explain in words how frustrating it is,” DeRozan

said. ”We try to work as hard as we can, but the ball doesn’t

bounce our way, the ball doesn’t go in when you need it to go in.

It’s everything you can think of.”

Salmons made a pair of 3s early in the third and scored eight

points as Sacramento built its lead to 73-60 midway through the

period. Lowry helped bring the Raptors back, scoring 15 points in

cutting the Kings’ lead to 78-76 entering the fourth.

Cousins scored 14 points and Thompson had 11 in the first half,

helping the Kings take a 55-47 lead.

Operating exclusively inside, the struggling Cousins got going

early, scoring 12 points in the first quarter. Pietrus had 11 for

Toronto, which was outscored 26-18 in the second.

NOTES: Pietrus has started two of the three games since he was

signed by the Raptors as a free agent on Nov. 30. … The Kings are

4-1 this season when they score 100 or more points. … Former

Raptor James Johnson came off the bench to start the second quarter

and quickly made a 3-pointer, his first of the season after missing

his first eight tries. He finished with six points, eight rebounds

and five fouls in 14 minutes. … Raptors reserve forward Linas

Kleiza (sore left hip) missed his second straight game.