SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — Uncertain of his offensive role earlier this season, Tyreke Evans has reverted to what he does best: attacking the basket.
Evans supplied offense in critical times for the Kings on Saturday, scoring 21 of his 27 points in the second half, helping slumping Sacramento beat the Utah Jazz 108-97.
Resembling the attacking guard who won Rookie of the Year honors in the 2009-10 season, Evans has averaged 21 points in the last four games. Perhaps it’s no coincidence that the Kings have scored 100 points or more and shot over 50 percent in three straight games, two of them victories.
“We’ve been aggressive, just trying to attack,” Evans said. “If I miss one shot, I’m (still) trusting my shot. I’ve been coming here after the games and before games just to get extra shots up and it’s working for me.”
Evans got to the basket and even made a few outside shots. He made 9 of 17 shots and converted all nine free throws. He also added five rebounds, five assists and two steals for the Kings, who shot 54 percent.
“He (Evans) is a tough cover and a big body that can put the ball on the floor and handle it,” Utah coach Tyrone Corbin said. “He got the best of us tonight.”
The Jazz got the best of the Kings in a Friday night game in Utah. Sacramento squandered a 13-point, fourth-quarter lead in a two-point loss, but this time held on to win for only the second time in eight games.
“It left a bad taste knowing how we lost last night,” said Aaron Brooks, who made three 3-pointers and scored 13 points in the rematch. “We were in the same position tonight with the lead in the fourth quarter. We attacked the basket and played good defense. It was good to play again tonight after what happened Friday. I would hate to be waiting two days to play again.”
Jason Thompson had 16 points and nine rebounds for Sacramento, which outscored the Jazz 56-41 in the second half. Sacramento committed 12 first-half turnovers, but had just two after intermission.
The Kings won the game despite losing center DeMarcus Cousins, the team’s leading scorer and rebounder. The demonstrative Cousins was ejected with 1:35 left in the third quarter after arguing over a foul he committed against Enes Kanter. Cousins and Carmelo Anthony both have a league-leading five technical fouls this season. Cousins had 14 points and nine rebounds in 29 minutes against the Jazz.
“We are communicating with him, doing everything we can,” Kings coach Keith Smart said. “Some guys just have it like that and sometimes it takes a while, the person grows out of the situation. We can’t kick the guy to the curb because he doesn’t have any hope. There may be some other people that give up hope, but not me.”
Utah center Al Jefferson, who battled inside against Cousins the past two games, didn’t think the Kings would be weakened after their center was ejected and promptly sprinted toward the Kings locker room.
“Actually, when Chuck Hayes is in the game he’ll make them a lot better on defense,” Jefferson said. “We kind of knew Chuck was going to come in and make a difference. To me that motivated them when Cousins got kicked out of the game.”
Randy Foye scored 17 points and Jefferson had 14 for Utah, which had won its previous three games. Jamaal Tinsley also had 14 points and seven assists, while Paul Millsap added 13 points.
Gordon Hayward, who had 23 points and made the game-winner with 4.5 seconds left Friday against the Kings, shot 1 of 8 and had eight points. The Jazz shot 40 percent overall. They have won all five home games this season, but are 2-7 on the road.
Evans scored 10 points in the fourth quarter and helped seal the victory by making six straight free throws in the final 52 seconds.
Rookie forward Thomas Robinson scored inside and followed with a fast-break layup, putting Sacramento ahead 92-84 with 6:22 remaining.
Evans scored 11 points and Salmons had eight in the third quarter, when the Kings outscored Utah 32-19 to assume an 83-75 lead entering the fourth.
“In the third quarter they came out a little more aggressive,” Corbin said. “We missed some shots and they got a little run going and we never recovered. It was still only a four-point game in the fourth quarter. They just kind of took it over and they got another run on us there. They made a lot of shots.”
Foye scored 15 points in the first half as the Jazz led 56-51. Thompson had 11 points for the Kings and Cousins contributed 10 points and seven assists.
Notes: Foye connected on four 3-pointers and scored 13 points, helping Utah to a 29-23 first-quarter lead. … Tinsley started in place of Utah point guard Mo Williams, who sprained his ankle in Friday’s game and didn’t play in the rematch. … Robinson had three turnovers during a brief second-quarter appearance off the bench. … Fouled on a 3-point attempt midway through the fourth quarter, Foye missed all three free throws.
(Copyright 2012 The Associated Press.)