Kings 106, Jazz 97
Despite being one of the NBA's worst teams this season and a possible relocation to Anaheim looming in the franchise's future, the Sacramento Kings and their fans haven't given up.
Before one of the largest crowds of the season on Sunday night, Tyreke Evans had 24 points and 10 assists to help the Kings hold on for a 106-97 win over the Utah Jazz.
''The fans don't surprise me,'' said Kings guard Marcus Thornton, who had 15 points and seven rebounds. ''I'm a history guy. I remember when Peja (Stojakovic), (Chris) Webber and (Mike) Bibby were here. They were really behind that team. The fans are great here. They are supporting us even with everything that is going on off the court.''
The Anaheim City Council voted unanimously Tuesday on a $75 million financial package that could help lure the Kings to Orange County. The council also voted in favor of paying for any of the franchise's relocation fees.
On the court, everything went fairly well against the Jazz. The Kings shot 52 percent, shared the ball well (29 assists) and had nine steals.
DeMarcus Cousins had 17 points, nine rebounds, six assists and a career-high five steals before fouling out in the game's final minute for the Kings, who ended a two-game slide.
''Even though the season is almost over, we want to end it strong, go out on a good note,'' Cousins said. ''We want to build for next year and hopefully we start the season like we are ending this one.''
Francisco Garcia added 17 points for the Kings, who led by seven after one quarter, built the lead to 10 by halftime, and never let the Jazz make a serious second-half run.
Paul Millsap scored 21 points for the Jazz, who dropped their sixth straight game - Utah's longest slide since a nine-game skid from March 4-19, 2005. Kyle Weaver and rookie Gordon Hayward each had career highs with 19 points.
''We thought we'd come out with a good effort at the beginning of the ballgame, especially put more pressure on the (turnover-prone) Kings,'' Utah head coach Tyrone Corbin said. ''We let them get their confidence going and they had a pretty good game as a result. They shot the ball well. Our defense was not there.''
Evans scored nine points in the fourth. He started the quarter by connecting from the perimeter several times and igniting the Kings, who never let the lead slip under eight points in the fourth.
Evans got going in the third to help the Kings maintain their lead. He scored nine points and both Cousins and Garcia had eight, helping Sacramento take a 81-72 lead into the fourth.
''He (Tyreke) has been playing great,'' Thornton said. ''He's still not all the way healthy so when we get him back to 100 percent we're going to be a dangerous team. We're just trying to bring this momentum into training camp and next season.''
Darnell Jackson scored 11 points in the opening half for Sacramento, which led 50-40 at the break. Leading by seven points after one quarter, the Kings opened the second with a 15-2 run that put them ahead 41-21. Heyward scored 12 points for Utah.
Despite starting the season 15-5, Utah was eliminated from playoff contention Friday with a 96-85 home loss to the Los Angeles Lakers.
It didn't help Utah that starters Andrei Kirilenko (knee), Devin Harris (hamstring) and Raja Bell (calf) all missed the Kings game, along with reserve Ronnie Price (leg).
It's been an extremely difficult final two months of the season for the Jazz. Hall of Fame coach Jerry Sloan shocked the organization by retiring Feb. 10, and two weeks later the Jazz traded All-Star point guard Deron Williams to New Jersey.
The Jazz are 5-18 under Corbin, who lost the interim tag shortly after he took over for Sloan and was given a contract through the 2013 season.
''We have to work hard every day and get better,'' Hayward said. ''We need to watch some of the film to see where we can improve. It's something we definitely need to do.''
Notes: Utah rookie Derrick Favors picked up three fouls in 5 minutes and quickly went to the bench early in the second quarter. Cousins had four first-half steals, one more than his previous season-high. ... C.J. Miles missed all seven shots and had zero points in the first half. He finished with six points.