SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP)—On a night the Sacramento Kings openly campaigned for Tyreke Evans(notes) to be Rookie of the Year, the exciting first-year guard appropriately obliged with another vintage performance.
Evans recorded his first career triple-double with 19 points, 10 rebounds and 10 assists, leading the Kings to a 113-90 victory over the Toronto Raptors on Wednesday night.
With frequent chants of “ROY!” (Rookie of the Year), Evans responded with a strong overall game that has typified his season. Evans is trying to join the rare company of Oscar Robertson, LeBron James(notes) and Michael Jordan as the only players in NBA history to average 20 points, five rebounds and five assists as a rookie.
“When you just look at it objectively from day one all the way through now, Tyreke has consistently been up there averaging over 20, five boards and five assists, and really taking steps to change the culture of this team,” Kings coach Paul Westphal said.
“I really don’t see how anybody else could get a vote if people look at the totality of the season.”
The only drama left in the lopsided game was whether Evans would get the triple-double before leaving. Perhaps the leading candidate for the first-year award, Evans passed to Francisco Garcia(notes) for his 10th assist with 1:34 remaining and promptly went to the bench 13 seconds later amid a chorus of cheers.
The triple-double was the first for a rookie in the franchise since Norm Van Lier of the Cincinnati Royals recorded one on Nov. 5, 1969, against the San Diego Clippers.
“The triple-double is very special to me, it’s my first one,” said Evans, who explained that Westphal was telling him what play to run to get that final assist. “He told me in two minutes he would be taking me out, so I was trying to get it as fast as I could. Cisco said look for him off the curl and I did. He’s been making that shot all the time in practice.”
Beno Udrih(notes) had 24 points and eight assists, and Carl Landry(notes) and Donte Greene(notes) both scored 15 points for the Kings, who scored 43 points in the third quarter and snapped a three-game losing streak.
“He (Evans) just picked us apart, you can’t stop him with one guy,” Toronto coach Jay Triano said. “He’s a tough guard for us and he makes two or three guys have to guard him and when that happens his teammates make shots. Other guys are going to be open.”
The loss dropped Toronto into a seventh-place tie with Charlotte in the Eastern Conference. The Raptors are only one game ahead of ninth-place Chicago.
“We have to get back to winning games,” guard Jose Calderon(notes) said. “The good thing about it is that we are still in the playoff loop. We have to try to get better and hopefully it’s in our next game.”
In honor of Evans, the Kings designated the game “Rally for Reke Roy Night.” The Kings gave out 10,000 free “Reke Roy” T-shirts and 5,000 face-on-a-sticks which include an image Evans.
Perhaps fittingly, Evans converted the game’s most difficult shot attempt. Fouled on a baseline drive late in the second quarter, Evans tossed up a floater from behind the backboard that brought a sudden roar from the crowd when it went in.
“Tyreke was great tonight, he’s been consistent all year,” Udrih said. “There was a lot of pressure on him tonight and he gets a triple-double. He deserves a night like this and he deserves Rookie of the Year.”
It was Evans and Landry carrying the scoring load early in the third quarter and Udrih taking over late. Udrih scored nine points, including a short jumper at the buzzer to put the Kings ahead 83-68.
Landry scored 10 points and Evans had nine in the third period. The 43 points were the most in a quarter since the Kings had 43 against Utah on Dec. 4, 2008. The 73 second-half points were a season high and the Kings shot nearly 62 percent.
“It was exciting out there and it reminded me of college at Memphis; I had a lot of fun,” Evans said. “The crowd was into it and we played really well in the second half.”
Bargnani scored 11 points and Bosh had eight for the Raptors in the opening half, when they led 45-40. Udrih scored 13 points and Evans added eight for the Kings.
NOTES: The Kings shot 18 of 24 in the third quarter, matching the number of field goals they made in the opening half, when they shot 39 percent. Toronto has lost four consecutive road games and fell to 10-21. Bosh is 55 points away from being the first Toronto player in franchise history to reach 10,000 points.