Evans looks to build on the best game of his young career and help the Kings win their second consecutive game Sunday night when they host the Golden State Warriors.
Sacramento’s chances of staying competitive this season seemed to take a major hit Friday, when Martin decided to undergo surgery on his injured wrist. Martin had gotten off to a fast start, averaging a team-best 30.6 points, and was expected to be one of the floor leaders on a young Kings team, which was an NBA-worst 17-65 last season.
Evans’ performance in Saturday’s 104-99 victory at Utah, the team’s first game without Martin, gives Sacramento (2-4) reason to believe it can still find success without its star shooting guard.
Evans had career highs of 32 points and seven assists, showing he has the offensive firepower to step into Martin’s role.
“My confidence is up,” Evans said.
The fourth pick of the June draft was fearless, driving the lane and repeatedly drawing fouls on his way to the basket. Evans, who scored just three points in Monday’s 127-116 overtime victory over Memphis, made 16 of 19 free throws.
“I was pressing early in the season, but coach got me in the film room and we went over some things,” Evans said. “I saw ways I could get better and I felt ready to step up.”
Evans could have another strong offensive game against a Golden State team allowing an average of 113.5 points, second-worst in the NBA.
Just as the Kings are without their top player, the Warriors are also a little banged-up.
“Sometimes the effort is there but we’re four games into the season and we’ve got guys hurt already,” said Stephen Jackson(notes), who had 17 points Friday. “It’s a terrible start and that does nothing but get contagious. If you’re going to blame somebody, I’ll take the blame. I’ve been doing it since I got here.”
With the frontcourt plagued by injuries, the Warriors may need second-year forward Anthony Randolph(notes) to build on his best performance of the season. The 6-foot-10 power forward had season highs of 13 points and 14 rebounds against the Clippers for his first double-double.
In the only game he played against Sacramento last season, Ellis scored a career-high 42 points in a 143-141 overtime victory April 1.
Martin scored a career-best 50 for the Kings in that game.