Game time: Friday at 10 p.m. ET TV: FOX Sports Florida
With Tyreke Evans back in the lineup and getting the job done from 3-point range, the Sacramento Kings just returned to the win column.
Orlando Magic rookie coach Jacque Vaughn knows that Evans and the Kings are improving from beyond the arc, but he’s more concerned about stopping them from getting into the paint.
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Sacramento will try to win two in a row for just the second time this season Friday night when the Magic look to bounce back from one of the worst 3-point shooting efforts in franchise history.
After missing the previous two contests with a bruised left knee, Evans hit two late 3s and finished with 23 points Wednesday as the Kings ended a three-game slide with a 107-100 home victory over Toronto.
The fourth-year guard has never been known for his outside touch – he’s a career 25.8 percent 3-point shooter – but he’s 7 for 15 from beyond the arc while averaging 20.3 points in his last seven games.
“I’m happy for (Evans), especially on his outside shooting,” said center DeMarcus Cousins, who finished with 25 points and 13 rebounds Wednesday. “If Tyreke gets confidence in that shot he’s going to be an incredible player.”
Getting to the basket with more regularity could also help Evans raise his career-worst 15.5 scoring average. He went to the foul line a season-high 12 times Wednesday — hitting seven — as Sacramento (5-12) shot a season-high 34 free throws.
The Kings, 5-2 when they take 22 or more foul shots, also extended their streak of games with six or more 3s to nine.
Vaughn, though, is focused on protecting the lane, as Sacramento scored 56 points in the paint against the Raptors.
“Our ability to contain penetration — it boils down to that,” Vaughn said. “They have guys who can, at the end of the day, break you down one-on-one and score the basketball, whether it’s Aaron Brooks, Tyreke Evans, you can go down the line, John Salmons and even Cousins at the center position doing it one-on-one.”
The Magic (7-11) don’t have the same type of athletes on their team, and the result is a league-low 17.0 free throws per game.
Orlando has taken a different offensive approach under Vaughn, shooting 16.1 3-pointers per game compared to a league-high 27.0 a season ago, but the team’s success still has much to do with its ability to knock down shots from beyond the arc.
The Magic are 0-8 when hitting four or fewer 3s after missing 14 of 15 in Wednesday’s 87-81 loss at Utah.
It was the lowest 3-point percentage ever by Orlando when it had at least 15 attempts. The team opened its five game trip by hitting 8-of-23 3s against both the Los Angeles Lakers and Golden State in a pair of wins.
The Magic have won two straight and seven of eight in this series, averaging 112.0 points during that stretch.