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  • PAUL KITAGAKI JR. / pkitagaki@sacbee.com

    DeMarcus Cousins reaches for the ball during the first half. The center, who had been in a slump, had 25 points and 13 rebounds.

  • PAUL KITAGAKI JR. / pkitagaki@sacbee.com

    Tyreke Evans loses the ball and his balance as he is fouled by Toronto's DeMar DeRozan (10) in the second half. Evans had 23 points.

  • PAUL KITAGAKI JR. / pkitagaki@sacbee.com

    DeMarcus Cousins dunks in the first half for two of his 25 points. All five Kings starters scored in double figures.

Cousins, Evans lead Kings over Raptors

Published: Thursday, Dec. 6, 2012 - 12:00 am | Page 1C
Last Modified: Thursday, Dec. 6, 2012 - 4:16 pm

For one night, the grand plan was on display.

That plan has Tyreke Evans and DeMarcus Cousins performing like big-time players in the same game to lead the Kings to victories.

It happened Wednesday, when the Kings ended a three-game losing streak by beating the Toronto Raptors 107-100 at Sleep Train Arena.

After drafting Evans in 2009 and Cousins in 2010, the Kings are banking on the two developing into cornerstones for the franchise.

But as the Kings stumbled to a 4-12 start, both players struggled at various points. Evans was playing better before he was sidelined for two games because of a bruised left knee, while Cousins has been in a shooting slump most of the season.

In his first game back from the injury, Evans scored 23 points, 10 in the fourth quarter. Cousins had a team-high 25 points and 13 rebounds.

"We're the best two players on this team along with Marcus (Thornton)," Cousins said. "When we're having good games, we're a tough team to beat."

Cousins entered the game shooting 41.7 percent. That's low for any player, especially for a center who figures to have more attempts closer to the basket.

But the Raptors' interior defense eased Cousins' shooting woes for a night.

Between rookie Jonas Valanciunas and his backup, Amir Johnson, Toronto didn't have the strength to keep Cousins from doing what he wanted in the paint. Cousins made 11 of 18 shots (61.1 percent).

"He's a beast," Toronto coach Dwane Casey said. "We tried everybody on him. Aaron Gray had the flu. We were going to look at him, but Amir was the best guy behind Valanciunas with him."

Evans said he was thinking too much to start the game. He missed eight of his 12 shots before making three of his final four. Two of those makes were back-to-back three-pointers to give the Kings a 101-95 lead with 1:43 to play.

Entering the game, Evans was shooting 27.3 percent on three-pointers, a shot opponents dare him to take. The Raptors were no different, and Evans hit both threes in front of the Toronto bench.

Would Evans have taken those shots a year ago?

"Probably not," he admitted. "I probably would have pump-faked. That just comes from working out after practice every day, just shooting it with confidence."

Seeing the confidence Evans showed made his teammates happy.

"I just told him after the game that's the first time since I've been here I've seen him hit two threes in a row," Cousins said. "I'm happy for him. He's been working his tail off, especially with his outside shooting."

The Kings (5-12) needed all the shooting they could muster to deal with Toronto point guard Kyle Lowry. He finished with a season-high 34 points and 11 assists. In the second half, Lowry had 29 points and six assists.

With all five starters scoring in double figures, the Kings welcomed the teamwork they displayed after losing by 35 points to the Los Angeles Clippers on Saturday.

"A lot of guys played really good defense," Kings coach Keith Smart said. "It was a big positive for our team. In the NBA, it's hard to get wins, even if you're a good team."

If the Kings hope to become a good team, they'll need more of what they got from Evans and Cousins on Wednesday.

© Copyright The Sacramento Bee. All rights reserved.

Read more articles by Jason Jones



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