Kings 112, Wizards 109

Sacramento Kings rookie Tyreke Evans showed his youthful side

with a crucial late mistake, then quickly made amends like a

seasoned veteran.

Evans scored 26 points and came up with a steal and two clutch

free throws in the closing seconds for the Kings, who held on for a

112-109 victory over the struggling Washington Wizards on Wednesday

night.

On a night when the 20-year-old Evans wouldn’t have been able to

legally take advantage of dollar beer night, he thrilled an

enthusiastic crowd of 16,579 instead. He had 10 fourth-quarter

points and added six rebounds and six assists playing for the first

time on national TV (ESPN) in his NBA career.

“There has not really been a time when this coaching staff

hasn’t been amazed by this kid,” Kings coach Paul Westphal said.

“He got a (national) stage and he showed up. We’ve got a kid

that’s somebody in this league and it’s really fun to see that and

have this building rocking.”

The rocking stopped momentarily when Evans was caught holding

Gilbert Arenas’ jersey on an inbounds play and Washington was

awarded a free throw and the ball. Caron Butler made the foul shot

to cut the lead to one point with 16 seconds left, but Evans

quickly made up for his mistake, stealing the ball from Arenas on a

crossover dribble.

“I was pretty mad they called the foul, so I wanted the ball

back,” Evans said. “I was sitting on the crossover and I was able

to get a hand on it.”

Evans was fouled by Arenas and hit two free throws with 3.4

seconds left to give Sacramento a 112-109 lead. Butler missed a

long 3-pointer at the buzzer that would have sent the game into

overtime.

“That’s something I dreamed, to get the ball in the end,”

Evans said of the free throws. “I got the ball in my hands and

made the free throws.”

Arenas scored 13 of his 33 points in the fourth quarter and

Antawn Jamison had 30 points and eight rebounds for Washington,

which has lost six straight games by a combined 14 points.

“I’m a big guard in this league, but going up against him I

felt little tonight,” Arenas said. “It was a great pick up for

Sacramento.”

So was Kings rookie Omri Casspi, like Evans another first-round

pick who had a season-high 22 points in his first NBA start. Andres

Nocioni scored 20 points and Jason Thompson had 17 points and 13

rebounds for the Kings, who had dropped eight straight games to

Washington dating to Feb. 27, 2005.

The first Israel-born player to play in the NBA, Casspi made two

3-pointers and had five rebounds, three assists and a block.

“Coach told me early in the practice facility that I would be

starting. I was very excited, you dream about something like

this,” Casspi said. “I felt strong, I felt ready, and things went

good.”

Consecutive baskets by Arenas and a steal and dunk by Butler

rallied the Wizards within 109-108 with 18 seconds left. Fouled

after the inbounds play, Beno Udrih made one of two free throws for

a two-point lead with two seconds later.

“We had a chance, we had the ball in Gil’s hands at the end,”

said frustrated Wizards coach Flip Saunders. “We were down one and

Evans made a great play and poked it away.”

The dollar beer promotion helped give the Kings their

third-largest crowd of the season. Beer lines were long more than

an hour before game time and probably played a factor in the crowd

easily being the most boisterous to start a game this season.

Although the crowd noise continued in the second half, beer

sales did not. No alcohol was sold after halftime.

Nocioni scored 10 points and Casspi had nine in the third

quarter, when the Kings built a 89-80 entering the fourth. Despite

being fouled on the play, Nocioni hit a 3-pointer and added a free

throw for a rare four-point play that broke a 76-all tie and

ignited a 13-4 run to end the period for the Kings, who never

trailed again.

A basket and two free throws by Arenas cut the Kings’ lead to

95-88 with 7:09 remaining. But the Kings responded with Casspi’s

two free throws and Nocioni’s 3-pointer to increase their lead to

100-88.

Thompson hit several perimeter shots and scored 14 points in the

opening half, when the Kings shot 57 percent and led 59-54. Jamison

had 16 of his 20 points in the first quarter and Arenas had 15.

NOTES: The Kings last appeared in a nationally televised game on

Nov. 9, 2007, in a 93-91 loss at Cleveland. … Following a poor

game Tuesday night in Portland, Kings starting center Spencer Hawes

was benched and didn’t enter the game until 3:49 remaining in the

third quarter. He had two points and two rebounds in eight minutes.

… The Wizards have two games remaining on their four-game road

trip. They are 3-9 on the road this season.