Although he’s played a key role in New Orleans’ recent surge, Tyreke Evans failed to lead the Pelicans to another victory with their top two scorers sidelined against the league’s top club.
Evans will try to help New Orleans get back on track by continuing his success against the Sacramento Kings, for whom he played his first four seasons.
While Anthony Davis and Eric Gordon are uncertain to play for the Pelicans, the Kings could be missing second-leading scorer Isaiah Thomas on Monday night in New Orleans.
Evans has provided a huge boost with 20.5 points per game – more than six above his season average – while leading Southwest Division-worst New Orleans (32-41) to a 9-2 record in his last 11 starts.
After Davis went down early with an ankle injury Friday, Evans led the way with 22 points and a career-high 15 assists in his first start at point guard in a 102-95 home win over Utah.
Evans, however, couldn’t replicate that performance Saturday, scoring 11 points and going 4 of 13 from the field as the Pelicans had a season-high five-game winning streak snapped in a 96-80 loss at San Antonio.
New Orleans played again without Davis (21.3 points per game), who is day to day. There is no timetable for the return of starting guard Eric Gordon (15.4 ppg), who missed his fifth straight contest because of a knee injury.
Brian Roberts scored 18 points and Austin Rivers added 16 for the Pelicans, who have dropped seven of 10 without Davis this season. The All-Star forward had averaged 29.8 points and 13.5 rebounds in his last 10 games prior to Friday.
"It’s a joint/soft tissue injury right now,” coach Monty Williams said. "He did it in his normal routine. We’ll see how he feels.”
Evans, traded from Sacramento to New Orleans in July, has made the Kings (25-48) pay for that deal by averaging 23.0 points, 7.7 assists and 6.3 rebounds in three meetings.
Sacramento has lost three straight without Thomas (20.7 ppg), who had averaged 25.0 points in a five-game stretch before sustaining a right thigh contusion. The point guard is likely to be a game-time decision.
Rudy Gay scored 30 points but Sacramento suffered its fourth straight road loss Saturday, 103-100 to Dallas. The Kings rallied from a 17-point deficit to lead by five late, but the Mavericks responded with a 10-0 run and Sacramento missed a chance to tie in the final seconds.
Ray McCallum had 16 points and eight assists while becoming first player in the NBA this season to go the full 48 minutes of regulation.
”I felt fine the whole entire game,” said McCallum, who has averaged 45 minutes in his three career starts with Thomas sidelined. ”I knew with Isaiah being out, I would play more.”
Gay matched a career high with 41 points to lead the Kings to a 114-97 victory Jan. 21 for only their third win in 17 road games against New Orleans.
DeMarcus Cousins had 23 points and 12 rebounds March 3 to counter Evans’ 27 points, 10 boards and eight assists in a 96-89 victory.
The Kings have dominated the glass in the season series, outrebounding the Pelicans by a 136-110 margin.