The recent play of the Sacramento Kings and Golden State Warriors has been uninspired, but their respective rookies continue to provide highlights in what has become an otherwise tough season for both clubs.
Sacramento (15-28) and Golden State (13-29) are among the bottom three teams in the West, and the Kings have played particularly poorly recently with 14 losses in their last 16 games. That stretch includes a 108-101 loss at Golden State on Jan. 8.
The Kings suffered their third straight loss by double digits Saturday, failing to reach 85 points for a second consecutive night while finishing an 0-6 road trip with a 115-84 loss to Miami.
Sacramento now returns home to play four of six. The Kings are 12-9 at Arco Arena, but they have dropped four of five there. They defeated the Warriors 120-107 at home on Nov. 8.
Despite the team’s struggles during the road trip, Evans - leading all rookies with 20.7 points per game - performed very well, averaging 22.6 points while shooting 51.9 percent during the final five contests.
Evans scored 15 against the Heat, while Sacramento star Kevin Martin(notes) was held to five points for a second consecutive night. Martin has averaged 21.5 points in 11 games this season, but he’s struggled with his shot in six games since returning from a wrist injury that kept him out more than two months.
“Kevin was very frustrated,” coach Paul Westphal said. “He hasn’t found his rhythm. We know Kevin Martin is a big time scorer in this league and an energy player but he didn’t look like he was able to show that kind of game that we know he has in him.”
Martin has missed Sacramento’s last three games against Golden State. He scored a career-high 50 points the last time he faced the Warriors, but the Kings lost 143-141 in overtime April 1 of last season.
Golden State fell to 4-18 on the road with a 112-103 loss at Phoenix on Saturday. The Warriors faded in the second half after taking a 10-point lead at one point in the first.
“With about 2 or 3 minutes to go in the second quarter, we had everything where we wanted it,” Curry said. “We just let it slip.”
Curry was a bright spot for the Warriors, scoring 25 points with four 3-pointers. The seventh overall pick in June’s draft is fourth among rookies with 13.7 points per game, and he has averaged 20.0 points over the last 10 contests and 24.5 in the last four.
The Warriors could rely more heavily on Curry if their injury woes continue. They had only nine players dress against the Suns, and leading scorer Monta Ellis(notes) left after spraining his right ankle. Ellis, who had 39 points in Golden State’s home win over Sacramento, is a game-time decision for Tuesday.
Curry has been held to 21 total points in his first two games against Sacramento, while Evans has scored 24.0 per game against Golden State.