The former NBA Rookie of the Year made a memorable return to Sacramento, scoring a season-high 25 points and adding 12 assists to help the New Orleans Pelicans snap a four-game losing streak with a 113-100 win over the Kings on Monday night.
"I know they have no shot blockers, so I was attacking every chance I got," said Evans, who made 7 of 14 shots and hit 11 of 12 free throws after coming off the bench. "I'm quick enough to take it to the basket. That's what I do best. I wanted to be aggressive."
Known for his slashing style of play and his uncanny ability to get to the rim in four seasons with the Kings, Evans stayed true to his game, bypassing perimeter shots in favor of going to the hoop. He also added six rebounds and three steals.
"He got wherever he wanted to go. Nobody could keep in front of him and that's how he gets to the rim," Kings coach Michael Malone said. "If our guys didn't think he would try to come into this arena and get off, then I question their IQ. He played here and he's going to come here and try to show everybody what we're missing. And he did."
Evans averaged 17.5 points in his four seasons with the Kings. He joined the Pelicans in the offseason as part of a three-team trade and subsequently signed a four-year, $44 million contract.
The Pelicans pulled away in the fourth quarter, outscoring the Kings 36-23 to salvage their only victory on a five-game road trip. Evans was a major factor in the second half, scoring 13 points.
"I just told the guys that this is just about us getting stops and our defense had to prevail in the fourth quarter and I thought it did," New Orleans coach Monty Williams said.
Ryan Anderson, who grew up in the Sacramento region, had a difficult evening trying to contain Cousins at the defensive end. Anderson went to the bench with five fouls at the 8:17 mark in the fourth quarter.
The Pelicans' leading scorer missed 3 of 9 shots and had eight points.
Shaquille O'Neal sat courtside next to Kings majority owner Vivek Ranadive and Hall of Fame player Chris Mullin, who works in an advisory role with the team and frequently attends home games. O'Neal is one of Sacramento's minority owners. . Pelicans starting center Jason Smith missed his second consecutive game with a bruised bone in his right knee. Smith, who is on the inactive list, had started the team's first 24 games. . Cousins had it going early for the Kings, getting 12 points and seven rebounds in the first quarter . . Alexis Ajinca played 13 minute and fouled out in the fourth quarter.
MVP: Tyreke Evans had his best game as a Pelican in his return trip to Sacramento, scoring 25 points while dishing out 12 assists. He controlled the game offensively and even made an impact defensively with six defensive boards and three steals.
LVP: Rudy Gay went 2-for-12 and had six turnovers, compared to just two assists, in a game in which Sacramento really needed his scoring. Safe to say that he won't be looking at the stat sheet Monday night.
That was ... a false alarm: Eric Gordon went down hard in the third quarter and had to be taken to the Pelicans' locker room. With Gordon's injury history, many imagined the worst, but it was just a simple knee contusion and he should be good to go moving forward.