Kings Blog and Q&A

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January 1, 2012
Evans, Thornton lead Kings to 96-80 win over Hornets

Tyreke Evans had his best performance of the early season with 27 points and Marcus Thornton added 25 points as the Kings beat the New Orleans Hornets, 96-80, at Power Balance Pavilion.

The Kings were playing without DeMarcus Cousins, who coach Paul Westphal said was told to stay home after Cousins asked to be traded following the Kings' loss to the Knicks on Saturday night.

The win snapped a three-game skid and eased some of the frustration from the Kings' loss Saturday night, as the Kings prepare for a back-to-back-to-back stretch that starts Tuesday in Memphis.

After trailing 40-38 at halftime, the Kings' offense woke up to score 58 points and record 11 of their 16 assists in the second half. Evans provided a spark out of halftime by scoring 13 of his points in the third quarter.

"I thought that we spaced the floor better, we maybe looked a little bit more comfortable with where we were supposed to be and why," Kings coach Paul Westphal said. "I thought we played as a team. Even when we were missing shots, we were playing good basketball, hustling like crazy and getting good shots. So we just kept it up and finally they started dropping."

Evans also provided some excitement late with a soaring, athletic block on a fast-break and a fourth-quarter dunk that gave the Kings a 90-72 lead.

John Salmons added 13 points for the Kings and Chuck Hayes grabbed a team-high 10 rebounds for the Kings' undersized frontcourt. Missing Cousins' size and post presence, the Kings were out-rebounded 60-41.

The Hornets were led by Trevor Ariza's 17 points, while Chris Kaman added 14 points and 15 rebounds off the bench. They were hurt by awful three-point shooting, going 0-for-15 from beyond the arc.

Without Cousins, J.J. Hickson started at power forward and had 4 points and 9 rebounds in 24:51.

Westphal said prior to the game that Saturday night was the second time this year that Cousins has asked to be traded. Westphal said he was unsure if Cousins will accompany the team on its two-game road trip starting Tuesday, saying it would be up to Cousins. Cousins' agent has said neither he nor Cousins demanded a trade.

Players said they didn't learn they would be without Cousins against the Hornets until they arrived at the arena this afternoon.

Asked whether he was concerned about how the team would come out for the game, Evans said, "Not really."

"Me and (Thornton) had a long talk in the locker room yesterday," Evans said. "We just said ... we got to find a way. A lot of people complain about the offense, it's not the greatest offense, but it works when we run it. So we just got to keep playing hard like that. We got tough road games coming up and we got to go out there and play hard."

-- Matt Kawahara



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