Kings 102, Clippers 89
With rookie point guard and leading scorer Tyreke Evans back in Sacramento, the Kings needed someone to find the open man and make plays. Beno Udrih was more than able to fill the void.
Udrih had 20 points and a career-high 17 assists for only his second double-double of the season, leading the Kings to a 102-89 victory over the Los Angeles Clippers on Sunday. He made eight of 17 shots and committed only one turnover.
``We had to kind of employ a little bit of a different strategy on offense, but it's something that we've done before and we're definitely comfortable with,'' Udrih said.
Carl Landry had a team-high 24 points for the Kings, who improved to 6-10 since the Feb. 18 trade in which they obtained Landry from Houston and sent Kevin Martin to the Rockets. Spencer Hawes finished with 13 points and 10 rebounds.
``We're obviously young and don't have the most experience, but we play hard every night and we have a lot of room to grow together,'' Udrih said. ``From the beginning of this year to where we are now, and with the talent we have, we've shown a lot of growth.''
Evans, who leads all rookies in scoring (20.3) and minutes (37.3), will be evaluated Monday. He missed his sixth game of the season because of a mild concussion, a bruised jaw, lacerated gums and chipped teeth. The injuries were the result of an inadvertent elbow he took on Friday night from Milwaukee's Ersan Ilyasova while they were going for a loose ball.
The Kings are 2-4 without Evans in the lineup. He scored 20 or more points in 37 of his first 65 games, and was their leading scorer in both of the previous meetings with the Clippers.
``We want him back as soon as possible,'' coach Paul Westphal said. ``He is a mismatch, no matter what position he plays. He is a great defender and contributes tremendously to our lineup. We had great performances from our team today. They showed a lot of heart.''
Westphal, whose roster averages the least amount of NBA experience in the league, used his 27th different starting lineup with Francisco Garcia joining Udrih in the backcourt. Garcia had 16 points in his second start this season. Garcia has played in only 17 games after missing the first 52 because of a broken right forearm.
The Clippers, who snapped an eight-game losing streak on Wednesday, got 23 points from Eric Gordon. Cris Kaman had 12 points and nine rebounds.
Point guard Baron Davis, who had 13 points, played 30 minutes and didn't get an assist until early in the third quarter when he set up a short hook shot by Drew Gooden. Gooden had eight points, the fourth time he failed to reach double digits in 15 games since the Clippers obtained him from Washington.
``There is no explanation for our performance. It was just a lack of effort,'' Davis said. ``On a given night, not everyone is going to have it offensively. But I think there are other things that can be done on the court.''
Jason Thompson's hook shot gave the Kings their biggest lead 79-61 with 3:35 left in the third quarter. The Clippers got as close as 81-74 on Steve Blake's 3-pointer with 9:14 to play, but Andres Nocioni responded with a 3-pointer for his first points of the game and hit another 3 with 7:13 remaining to put Sacramento up 91-77.
``It says something about the growth of our team,'' Udrih said. ``In the past, we may get a lead, but then when they start chipping away, we start playing more and more nervous and not as aggressive. But toward the end of this game, Coach said: 'Don't even wait to run it down. Just get right into it and start attacking.' And that kind of mindset translates well for us.''
NOTES: The Kings are 2-4 without Evans in the lineup. ... Sacramento ended a streak of 10 consecutive road losses against Pacific Division teams since Jan. 14, 2009 ... The Kings were the team the Clippers beat for Kim Hughes' first win as interim coach after five losses. They are 5-16 since he replaced Mike Dunleavy on Feb. 4. ... F Rasual Butler is the only player to appear in all 70 games for Los Angeles. The last Clipper to play an entire 82-game season was Kaman in 2003-04, his rookie season. ... The Kings shot 50 percent from the field for the 17th time this season, but are only 8-9 in those games.