Tyreke Evans is beginning to get his swagger back and looks to lead the Sacramento Kings to consecutive wins for the first time in a month Friday night versus the Orlando Magic.
Evans, the 2009-10 NBA Rookie of the Year, is averaging 23.3 points in the last three games he has played in and returned to the court in Wednesday's 107-100 victory over Toronto. Evans had missed two straight games due to a bruised knee and scored 23 points for the Kings, who ended a three-game slide and won for the third time in 12 tries.
Evans hit two big 3-pointers down the stretch for a Kings squad that buried six of its 15 shots from beyond the arc.
"If Tyreke gets confidence in that shot he's going to be an incredible player," Kings center DeMarcus Cousins said.
Cousins had 25 points and 13 rebounds, while Jason Thompson added 13 points and 10 boards in the win. The Kings, who had a 73-60 lead at one point, haven't won two in a row since Nov. 5-7 and eclipsed the 100-point mark after averaging 87.3 ppg in the previous three games.
The Kings scored 56 points in the paint and set season highs in free throws made (25) and attempted (34). They are fourth in the NBA in points in the paint, averaging 46.1 ppg. Cousins has scored in double-figures five of the last six games and is averaging 11.7 rpg in the last three games.
Sacramento will open a four-game trek Saturday against Portland, Dallas, Milwaukee and Oklahoma City.
Orlando will resume its five-game western road swing Friday and had a modest two-game winning streak stopped with Wednesday's 87-81 loss at Utah.
The Magic erased a 13-point deficit in the fourth quarter and grabbed a 79-78 lead on a Glen Davis dunk with 3:33 left in the game. Utah, though, then took the lead back for good on a Randy Foye 3-pointer, sending Orlando to its fourth loss in six tries.
Orlando committed 20 turnovers, leading to 15 Jazz points.
"It just shows how important it is to play the whole game and how we can't have little errors like turnovers. I turned the ball over a lot today," said Davis, who had three miscues. "We were in the ball game, in spite of 20 turnovers. I commend our team just for fighting and fighting back."
Davis led the way with 18 points and 12 rebounds, Jameer Nelson scored 17 points and Arron Afflalo finished with 16 for the Magic, who fell to 2-1 on the trek after wins over the Lakers and Warriors. J.J. Redick had 14 points in a losing effort.
The Magic will wrap up the sojourn Sunday in Phoenix and are 3-6 away from central Florida this season.
Orlando won the lone matchup with Sacramento last season, posting a 104-97 triumph in California's capital on Jan. 8. The Magic have won seven of eight and 10 of the last 15 meetings between the teams, and are unbeaten in four straight as the visitor in this series.