Kings Blog and Q&A

News, observations and reader questions about the Sacramento Kings and the NBA.

March 20, 2012
Evans held himself out of starting lineup

Kings guard Tyreke Evans addresses the media following the Kings' 119-110 win over the Memphis Grizzlies at Power Balance Pavilion.

Kings head coach Keith Smart said he has a rule that if a starting player gets injured and needs to miss games, that player will still have his spot in the lineup when he's well enough to return.

With Tyreke Evans available Tuesday night after missing two games with a sprained left ankle, that rule was in effect.

It was John Salmons, though, who started at small forward in the Kings' 119-110 win over the Memphis Grizzlies. Smart said after the game that that was a decision Evans made at the team's morning shootaround.

"Tyreke came up and said, coach, keep Johnny in the lineup," Smart said. "That's huge for a guy to make that call right there in front of everyone."

The Kings had won their previous two games with Salmons starting and exhibited good ball movement in those games.

Evans said he made the decision with Salmons in mind.

"I just wanted to keep his confidence going," Evans said. "John has been playing great, been hitting shots. He had his confidence up."

Guard Isaiah Thomas said the announcement at the shootaround drew a "round of applause."

"Your franchise player, the best player on the team, for him to do that, that means he's all about winning and wants to do whatever it takes to win," Thomas said.

Salmons, a much-improved shooter since the All Star break, had averaged 11 points and 3.5 assists in the Kings' previous two games. He finished with seven points, six rebounds and two assists against the Grizzlies.

Evans entered Tuesday night's game at the beginning of the second quarter and played 24 minutes. It was the first time Evans has come off the bench this season in a game in which he has played.

Evans had 13 points on 6-of-11 shooting, four rebounds, three assists and three turnovers.

He appeared determined on repeated drives to the basket despite the ankle that he termed after the game "halfway there."

"My lateral movement's pretty good," Evans said. "I think that's the most important thing because of the way I drive to the basket."

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