Tyreke Evans back in starting lineup against Cleveland Cavaliers

Tyreke Evans drives against Ray Allen.  (Photo: Steven Chea)

After three games coming off the bench following almost a month of inactivity, Tyreke Evans is back in the starting lineup.  The 23-year-old swingman will start at shooting guard when the Sacramento Kings host the Cleveland Cavaliers later tonight.

In his stead, Francisco Garcia started 13 games while Evans recovered from a left knee bruise he sustained in late November.

“The conversation that Tyreke was having all the time was that ‘Hey, let Francisco continue to start.  I’m not there yet, so let him start’,” Kings head coach Keith Smart said after practice yesterday.  “And so it was good on his part to keep doing that because he knows his body.  The athlete knows his body and what he can do and can’t do at that time.”

Prior to the injury, Evans finally started to shoot without hesitation against his opposition.  According to NBA.com, Evans was shooting 45 percent on 9-of-20 attempts from mid-range in the five games he played before hurting his left knee.

The next step in Evans’ recovery, according to Smart, is getting the starting off-guard to regain the confidence he once had in his jumper.  Smart noticed Evans shied away from a few good looks against the Miami Heat.

“I thought he passed up a couple shots (Saturday) night over-penetrating,” the Kings head coach said. “So I think he has to get back to that point of having the confidence because he works on it every day. But now you gotta take that mindset from your work every day in practice and put it into the game and get that confidence back there.”

Evans also has to readjust himself to playing alongside Isaiah Thomas.  The duo started the Kings’ first nine games of the season until Smart benched Thomas in favor of veteran Aaron Brooks.

As the starting point guard, Thomas knows it’s part of his job to get Evans comfortable.  The second-year player out of Washington used practice yesterday to help Evans with his decision-making, namely when to be aggressive and when to facilitate.

“You can tell he’s still a little rusty,” Thomas said. “But who wouldn’t be?  He was out a month…”

Thomas agrees with his head coach that helping Evans regain his poise will be key to the starting shooting guard’s future success.

“He’s just got to get his groove back and get his confidence back,” Thomas added.  “I think that’s a big part.  I don’t think he really has any confidence in himself because he’s been out so long.”

Aaron Brooks questionable with the flu

The veteran guard may or may not play tonight against the Cavs.  Brooks caught a case of the flu and missed Saturday’s game against the Heat and the ensuing practice that followed.

Smart suggested a bug circulating around his team and the league is to blame.

“He wasn’t here today (Sunday),” Smart said of Brooks. “So he’s going to be real weak and we’ll see what happens tomorrow.  But, two days of that and you never know.  He probably won’t be able to go tomorrow.  We’ll see in the morning.”

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About: Jonathan Santiago

Jonathan Santiago serves Cowbell Kingdom as senior editor specializing in writing, podcasting and video production. He also handles the majority of CK’s day-to-day beat coverage of the Kings.