Martin is expected to play for the first time in more than two months as the Kings kick off a six-game trip against the lowly Philadelphia 76ers on Friday night.
Martin returned to practice Wednesday after being cleared the previous day and looked strong enough to give coach Paul Westphal reason to believe he’s ready to play again, according to the Kings’ official Web site. Martin averaged 30.6 points in five games before injuring his left wrist.
Westphal said he doesn’t know whether Martin will immediately return to the starting lineup.
“You can’t get in basketball shape for the NBA by riding any exercise bike that has ever been invented,” Westphal said. “Doing drills is good but that doesn’t really duplicate a scrimmage and a scrimmage doesn’t duplicate an NBA game. It’s all different. He’s a well conditioned athlete. He’s as ready as he can be for the next step.”
Martin has been the focal point offensively for Sacramento (15-22), averaging at least 20 points the past three seasons. Led by Tyreke Evans(notes), the Kings have managed to average 103.7 points without Martin, but the impressive rookie guard can certainly use some help.
“With him coming back, that will take some pressure off of me,” said Evans, averaging 20.7 points, 5.1 rebounds and 5.0 assists. “We can hopefully get into a rhythm and get things going.”
This matchup marks a homecoming for Evans, who will play his first professional game in his native Philadelphia. He was born and raised in nearby Chester, Pa., going on to become one of the top high school players in the state’s history.
His success has clearly carried into the NBA. Evans is looking to join LeBron James(notes), Michael Jordan and Oscar Robertson as the only first-year players to post at least 20 points, five rebounds and five assists a contest.
Evans had a subpar game Tuesday night, tying a season low with two assists and scoring 18 points on 5-of-16 shooting in a 109-88 loss to Orlando. He had scored 25 or more in each of his previous three contests.
Evans is averaging 24.0 points in his last three road games for the Kings, who are 3-13 away from Arco Arena. This road trip also includes one game apiece against each of the five Southeast Division teams, capped by a visit to Miami on Jan. 23.
Sacramento has lost three of its last four games at Philadelphia and four in a row overall to the 76ers (12-26).
Philadelphia beat the Kings 116-106 on Dec. 30, the teams’ first meeting this season. Evans missed that contest with a sprained right ankle.
Starting guards Allen Iverson(notes) and Louis Williams(notes) combined for 42 points for the 76ers. The duo, though, was held to 21 points on 9-of-21 shooting in a 93-92 loss to the New York Knicks on Wednesday night.
Philadelphia had won two straight, matching a season high.
Samuel Dalembert(notes) had 12 points and a season-high 21 rebounds for the Sixers despite playing with a heavy heart in the aftermath of Tuesday’s earthquake which devastated his home country of Haiti. The veteran center has been trying to gather information on family members still living there.
Dalembert has again been a steady presence in the paint for the 76ers, averaging 9.0 rebounds and 2.2 blocks. In his last five games, he’s had three double-doubles and a pair of 20-rebound efforts.