However, it was the play of two other players that had Kings
coach Michael Malone excited after his team's 96-89 victory over the
New Orleans Pelicans on Monday at Sleep Train Arena.
Forward Reggie Evans and guard Ray McCallum may not be Sacramento's
biggest names, but they are making some of the team's biggest
contributions recently, according to Malone.
"Just trying to bring some veteran leadership, show that you never
quit," Evans said. "Understand your role for the team and do your
best at it. That's what I'm trying to."
Evans had 10 points and a game-high 13 rebounds, five of them on the
offensive end, all resulting in baskets. McCallum scored eight
points and played stifling defense on New Orleans shooting guards
Eric Gordon and Anthony Morrow in the final quarter. Neither scored
"I loved how Ray McCallum played," Malone said. "For me, Ray is
growing up in front of our eyes. The last couple of games, he played
meaningful minutes, making big plays and showing no fear."
McCallum, who also made Sacramento's only 3-pointer, was coming off
of a nine-point, five-assist effort against the Minnesota
Timberwolves on Saturday.
"I feel like I'm getting the chance to play now, so I'm finding a
little rhythm out there," McCallum said. "The game is slowing down
and coming to me a little bit."
The performances by Evans and McCallum complemented the usual from
the Big Three — Cousins, Gay and Thomas combined for 59 points — and the Kings (21-39) snapped a three-game losing streak. They also
handed New Orleans (23-37) its eighth consecutive loss.
The Pelicans are 0-4 on a five-game trip.
Thomas scored 11 of his 22 points in the third quarter. He sparked a
decisive 22-7 run in the third that turned a 52-46 deficit into a
68-59 lead going into the fourth. Key among those shots was a
driving floater from the right baseline that resulted in a
Evans also stood out more in the second half, contributing eight of
his 10 points and eight of his 13 rebounds.
"I'm not surprised," Malone said. "We've all watched Reggie for
years. I don't care where he's playing or who he is playing with,
he's going to bring great effort every minute he's on the floor.
He's always been one of the top rebounders per minute in the NBA,
and he's got great toughness. He makes things happen out there."
Cousins added a team-high 23 points and 12 rebounds for his 36th
double-double of the season. The Kings outrebounding the Pelicans
47-30, including 16-7 on the offensive end.
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Cousins also avoided drawing a technical foul. The NBA's leader with
16, Cousins will receive a one-game suspension the next time he
draws a technical.
Gay, who matched a career-high with 41 points in the teams' previous
meeting Jan. 21, scored 14 points.
The Kings won with fewer than 100 points for the first time since
Feb. 3 against the Chicago Bulls.
Former Kings guard Tyreke Evans led the Pelicans with a game-high 27
points and 10 rebounds.
Forward Anthony Davis missed his first nine shots and finished with
13 points for the Pelicans (23-37). Davis made his final three shots
after starting 1-for-11 from the floor. He did not sink a shot until
the third quarter.
"He missed a lot of open shots," Pelicans coach Monty Williams said.
"When he shoots 0-for-8, it's tough for us to win."
The performance did nothing to alleviate concerns about Davis' left
shoulder, which he injured last Wednesday against the Dallas
Mavericks. The second-year pro shot a combined 5-for-20 while
scoring only 21 points over his past two games.
Without Davis' usual 20 points per game, the Pelicans have struggled
to find offense. Guard Brian Roberts added 15 points and Gordon
scored 10. The two rebounded from a horrid effort against the Los
Angeles Clippers on Saturday by shooting a combined 10-for-22. The
duo went a combined 2-for-21 against Los Angeles.
New Orleans is losing by an average score of 104-92 during its skid.
The trip concludes Tuesday against the Los Angeles Lakers.
NOTES: New Orleans F Anthony Davis (20.2 points, 10.0 rebounds, 2.96
blocks per game entering Monday) has a chance to become the first
player to average 20 points, 10 rebounds and three blocks per game
through an entire season since current Kings executive Shaquille
O'Neal did so with the Los Angeles Lakers in 1999-2000. ...
Sacramento is the only team with three players averaging at least 20
points per game. C DeMarcus Cousins (22.3 before Monday), G Isaiah
Thomas (20.5) and F Rudy Gay (20.4) all were among the top 20 in NBA
scoring entering the contest. ... New Orleans was averaging 6.3
blocks per game entering the contest, the most in the NBA, and its
38 percent shooting from 3-point range ranked fourth. ... Kings
rookie G Ray McCallum averaged 15 minutes per game in his previous
eight contests and was coming off a season-high 28-minute effort
against Minnesota on Saturday. He averaged 8.8 minutes in the 22
games he played before Monday. ... Sacramento opens its longest road
trip of the season, seven games, Wednesday at Milwaukee.
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