SACRAMENTO – It was more a family feud than a reunion.
The Sacramento Kings (8-19) stumbled Monday against the visiting New Orleans Pelicans 113-100. Tyreke Evans returned to Sleep Train Arena where he played his first four NBA seasons and was once considered a franchise cornerstone.
Evans felt right at home as he produced 25 points, 12 assists, six rebounds and three steals in 36 minutes off the bench. Showing an assertiveness which the Kings lacked, the 2009 lottery pick danced and dribbled through the lane to earn free throws and easy layups.
Evans’ masterpiece took away from the fact that the Kings played uninspiringly. Sacramento finished with more turnovers (22) than assists (15) and allowed the Pelicans to shoot nearly 50 percent. DeMarcus Cousins did his part with 24 points and 14 rebounds, but he missed seven free throws. Head coach Michael Malone was distressed when recalling the night’s collapse.
“We had some decent stretches tonight, but every time we tried to build a little bit of a lead we turned the ball over,” Malone murmured. “We turned the ball (over) out of a timeout, our starting point guard to our starting small forward. Rudy Gay had seven turnovers. DeMarcus had four. Isaiah had four. Marcus had four. We’re not that good where we can give teams 22 extra possessions.”
Despite the Kings’ best attempts at sabotage, the game remained neck-and-neck until 5:21 in the fourth quarter when Jrue Holiday exposed a defensive miscommunication to drain a 3 and break a 92-92 tie. Three minutes later, the Kings found themselves down double-digits.
It was another stomach-turning loss for a team that can’t seem to play headfirst for 48 minutes. The Kings need to find answers quick, because they host the Miami Heat on Friday and Malone isn’t seeing corrected mistakes.
“How many times do you have to hit rock-bottom?” Malone quipped. “If you look at our record, we’ve hit rock-bottom four or five times now.”
“We’re a bad basketball team, that’s the bottom line. We’re a bad basketball team right now.”
The Kings will have the next two days to reflect on their effort with practice off Christmas.
Photo Credit: Hector Amezcua / Sacbee.com