Evans and the Kings look to snap a seven-game road losing streak Friday night when they open their three-game trip against the lowly Minnesota Timberwolves.
The fourth overall pick in the draft after playing one season collegiately at Memphis, Evans has brought the Kings (11-13) back on the national radar by averaging 20.3 points—the second-highest total among first-year players. On Wednesday, he scored 10 of his 26 points in the fourth quarter, including two key free throws with 3.4 seconds left after stealing the ball from Wizards guard Gilbert Arenas(notes), as Sacramento improved to 10-3 at home by defeating Washington 112-109 in its first nationally televised game in two seasons.
“There has not really been a time when this coaching staff hasn’t been amazed by this kid,” Kings coach Paul Westphal said of Evans. “He got a (national) stage and he showed up. We’ve got a kid that’s somebody in this league and it’s really fun to see that and have this building rocking.”
The Kings were 11-30 at home in 2008-09, when they finished a franchise-worst 17-65.
On the road, though, Evans has played with a poise that belies his 20 years. He is averaging 21.1 points and shooting 51.6 percent from the field in 10 games, but the Kings are a Western Conference-worst 1-10 away from home.
Those road woes, though, may end quickly if both Evans and fellow rookie Omri Casspi(notes) can continue to play well. Making his first career start Wednesday, Casspi scored a season-high 22 points while adding five rebounds and three assists.
“Coach told me early in the practice facility that I would be starting. I was very excited, you dream about something like this,” he said. “I felt strong, I felt ready, and things went good.”
Casspi is averaging 11.4 points, shooting 45.9 percent from 3-point range and 51.4 percent overall.
Both players contributed to Sacramento’s 120-100 victory over the visiting Timberwolves (4-22) on Saturday. Evans had 18 points, five rebounds and five assists while Casspi hit two 3-pointers and scored 14 points off the bench.
Sacramento, which is fifth in the league in scoring at 104.7 points per game, has a good chance of winning its first road game since Nov. 7 as it faces a Timberwolves team that allows 104.7 per game.
Coming off Monday’s victory at Utah, Minnesota (4-22) fell to 2-11 at Target Center with Wednesday’s 120-95 loss to the Los Angeles Clippers.
The Timberwolves shot 38.5 percent from the field while allowing 120 points or more for the sixth time.
“This was a big step backward in my mind,” first-year coach Kurt Rambis said.
With Ryan Gomes(notes) questionable with a sprained left ankle, Al Jefferson(notes) will likely also need a big game if Minnesota is going to defeat Sacramento for the first time since a 98-96 win Oct. 29, 2008.