The last-place Sacramento Kings were in high spirits after
concluding their recent road trip with a win.
The slumping New Orleans Pelicans are hoping to do the same.
The Kings try to spoil Tyreke Evans’ first trip back to
Sacramento as they go for a fifth consecutive home victory over the
Pelicans on Monday night.
After dropping three straight by an average of 14.7 points, the
Kings (8-18) salvaged the finale of a four-game trek with
Saturday’s 105-100 win over Orlando. Sacramento shot a season-high
52.2 percent (12 of 23) from 3-point range and scored 23 points off
18 Magic turnovers.
“Obviously we came out here to win every one, but we got this
one. This will make our road trip a little easier on the way back,”
said Rudy Gay, who finished with 23 points. “But we’ve still got a
long way to go.”
Isaiah Thomas also came up big with 23 points and nine assists
while Marcus Thornton scored 15 off the bench. DeMarcus Cousins
added 14 points and 11 rebounds.
“We just wanted to try and get this last one,” said Thomas,
averaging 21.4 points over the last nine games. “The five-hour
flight home going 0-4 wouldn’t have been too good. Any win gives
you confidence, and I think we played the right way.”
The Kings have also played well during a four-game home winning
streak against New Orleans, shooting 49.1 percent and committed
just 12.3 turnovers per game.
Monday marks Sacramento’s first matchup against Evans since he
was sent to the Pelicans in a three-team trade this summer and
subsequently signed a four-year, $44 million contract. Evans, who
averaged 17.5 points over his four seasons as a starter with the
Kings, is posting 12.0 per game off the bench this season.
While Evans is coming off one of his better efforts of the
season, the Pelicans dropped to 0-4 on their trip with Saturday’s
110-107 loss to Portland. Evans had 21 points, six rebounds and six
assists while Anthony Davis scored 21 to go with nine boards.
The Pelicans led by as many as 13 in the second quarter but were
outscored 7-2 over the final 1:27.
“Of course, that’s not the kind of ending we wanted,” said
Davis, playing in his second game after missing seven due to a
broken bone in his hand. “We gave ourselves a chance to win again
one of the best teams in the league.”
New Orleans has been outscored by an average of 11.1 points
during an eight-game road losing streak against fellow Western
“Coming out here (on the road), all the time, is hard,” said
Ryan Anderson, leading the team with 21.2 points per game. “It’s a
lot of days away from home, it’s a long trip and especially this
one is a really long trip. But, I mean, there’s no excuses. We just
want to get focused on next game and win next game.”
Eric Gordon, averaging just 10.7 points and shooting 35.3
percent in the last three games, is averaging 22.9 points in 12
career starts against the Kings.
Thornton, who spent the first year and a half of his career with
New Orleans, is averaging 18.5 points against his former team – his
highest mark against any club he’s faced more than five times.
Gay has scored at least 22 points in four of six games since
coming over from Toronto on Dec. 9. He is averaging 20.6 over a
nine-game stretch against the Pelicans.