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Pelicans' Evans shines in return to Sacramento

The SportsXchange

SACRAMENTO, Calif. -- Tyreke Evans showed little emotion when talking about his return to the city he called home for his first four NBA seasons. He didn't acknowledge any desire to stick it to the team that traded him away over the summer.

However, after helping the New Orleans Pelicans dispatch the Sacramento Kings 113-100 at Sleep Train Arena on Monday, the point guard's words nicely summed up his evening.

"I would say that I definitely had a good time coming back," he said.

In doing so, he made it a lousy night for his former team. Evans finished with a game-high 25 points and 12 assists, and his ball-handling and passing sparked a 21-8 New Orleans run over the final 5:35 that helped the Pelicans snap a four-game losing streak. It also made for a pleasant flight back to New Orleans after a five-game road trip.

Evans said his familiarity with the Kings -- for whom he was the NBA Rookie of the Year in 2009-10 -- helped. His dribble-drive pass to forward Alexis Ajinca and his penetration and kick to forward Ryan Anderson for a 3-pointer helped New Orleans pull away from a 92-92 tie, the last of 17 times the teams were deadlocked.

"They really have no shot-blocker, so I wanted to drive each chance I got," Evans said. "My game plan was to attack and put pressure on them."

He had help, too. Guard Jrue Holiday added 17 points and 10 assists, and forward Anthony Davis added 21 points for New Orleans, many of them coming on plays that started with Evans breaking down the defense. Davis added 11 rebounds.

"I know where he likes to drive and when," Davis said of Evans, "so I'm able to read that and move to where I need to be. We're creating a little synergy with that, but we've got a long way to go."

Guard Eric Gordon scored 17 points for New Orleans (12-14), but he left with a right hip contusion after falling hard early in the third quarter. He did not return. A Pelicans official said after the game that Gordon would be evaluated before it is determined whether he would play in the team's next game, Saturday against the visiting Denver Nuggets.

Forward Al-Farouq Aminu added 13 points as New Orleans won despite a subpar scoring night from Anderson. The Pelicans' leading scorer managed only eight points.

Still, Anderson's defense on Kings center DeMarcus Cousins was a key, New Orleans coach Monty Williams said. Cousins spent most of the second half in foul trouble and sat out a three-minute stretch midway through the fourth quarter after picking up his fifth.

Cousins finished with a team-high 24 points and 14 rebounds, but had only eight and five, respectively, in the second half. Point guard Isaiah Thomas added 21 points and five assists, and guard Marcus Thornton came off the bench to score 19 for the Kings, who lost for the sixth time in eight games.

Sacramento (8-19) hurt its cause with 22 turnovers, which New Orleans converted into 29 points. Forward Rudy Gay was charged with six giveaways, while Cousins, Thomas and Thornton had four each. Gay, playing his seventh game with the Kings since being acquired from the Toronto Raptors earlier this month, scored 11 points and made only two of 12 shots from the field.

"We had some decent stretches, but every time that we tried to build the lead, we would turn the ball over," Kings coach Michael Malone said. "We're not that good where we can give teams 22 extra possessions."

As for his team's inability to defend Evans?

"He got wherever he wanted to go," Malone said. "Nobody could keep him in front of him, and that's how he gets to the rim. We can't defend without fouling. If our guys didn't think he would try to come into this arena and get off, then I question their IQ."

Evans' double-double was his third of the season, and his 12 assists were one shy of his career high. He also had six rebounds and three of the Pelicans' season-high 13 steals.

NOTES: Pelicans C Jason Smith missed his second consecutive game with a bruised bone in his right knee. Anthony Davis started in his place. ... Kings G Isaiah Thomas averaged just shy of 39 minutes per game in the first eight games he started after the trade that sent G Greivis Vasquez to the Toronto Raptors, and Kings coach Michael Malone said the figure needs to go down in fairness to Thomas. The point guard played 35:15 against New Orleans. ... Thomas made a 3-pointer in his 21st games in a row, the third-longest active streak in the NBA. ... The Kings allowed 28 points in the first quarter, the seventh consecutive game in which they gave up at least that many in the opening frame.

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