Pelicans-Kings Preview

The Associated Press

The last-place Sacramento Kings were in high spirits after concluding their recent road trip with a win.

The slumping New Orleans Pelicans are hoping to do the same.

The Kings try to spoil Tyreke Evans' first trip back to Sacramento as they go for a fifth consecutive home victory over the Pelicans on Monday night.

After dropping three straight by an average of 14.7 points, the Kings (8-18) salvaged the finale of a four-game trek with Saturday's 105-100 win over Orlando. Sacramento shot a season-high 52.2 percent (12 of 23) from 3-point range and scored 23 points off 18 Magic turnovers.

"Obviously we came out here to win every one, but we got this one. This will make our road trip a little easier on the way back," said Rudy Gay, who finished with 23 points. "But we've still got a long way to go."

Isaiah Thomas also came up big with 23 points and nine assists while Marcus Thornton scored 15 off the bench. DeMarcus Cousins added 14 points and 11 rebounds.

"We just wanted to try and get this last one," said Thomas, averaging 21.4 points over the last nine games. "The five-hour flight home going 0-4 wouldn't have been too good. Any win gives you confidence, and I think we played the right way."

The Kings have also played well during a four-game home winning streak against New Orleans, shooting 49.1 percent and committed just 12.3 turnovers per game.

Monday marks Sacramento's first matchup against Evans since he was sent to the Pelicans in a three-team trade this summer and subsequently signed a four-year, $44 million contract. Evans, who averaged 17.5 points over his four seasons as a starter with the Kings, is posting 12.0 per game off the bench this season.

While Evans is coming off one of his better efforts of the season, the Pelicans dropped to 0-4 on their trip with Saturday's 110-107 loss to Portland. Evans had 21 points, six rebounds and six assists while Anthony Davis scored 21 to go with nine boards.

The Pelicans led by as many as 13 in the second quarter but were outscored 7-2 over the final 1:27.

"Of course, that's not the kind of ending we wanted," said Davis, playing in his second game after missing seven due to a broken bone in his hand. "We gave ourselves a chance to win again one of the best teams in the league."

New Orleans has been outscored by an average of 11.1 points during an eight-game road losing streak against fellow Western Conference opponents.

"Coming out here (on the road), all the time, is hard," said Ryan Anderson, leading the team with 21.2 points per game. "It's a lot of days away from home, it's a long trip and especially this one is a really long trip. But, I mean, there's no excuses. We just want to get focused on next game and win next game."

Eric Gordon, averaging just 10.7 points and shooting 35.3 percent in the last three games, is averaging 22.9 points in 12 career starts against the Kings.

Thornton, who spent the first year and a half of his career with New Orleans, is averaging 18.5 points against his former team - his highest mark against any club he's faced more than five times.

Gay has scored at least 22 points in four of six games since coming over from Toronto on Dec. 9. He is averaging 20.6 over a nine-game stretch against the Pelicans.

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