Sacramento Kings, Tyreke Evans hopeful about Wednesday return against Toronto Raptors

Tyreke Evans freezes Lou Williams with his dribble. (Photo: Steven Chea)

The Sacramento Kings have sorely missed the presence of Tyreke Evans.  Since injuring his left knee against the Minnesota Timberwolves a week ago, the Kings have once again become rudderless on the offensive end, losing in back-to-back games to the Indiana Pacers and Los Angeles Clippers.

The sooner he gets back, the better.  But will Evans be ready for Wednesday’s match-up against the Toronto Raptors?

“I can shoot off the dribble (now),” Evans said after practice Monday.  ” I couldn’t even bend my leg (before), so that’s a good sign.  I’ma get treatment and see how I feel tomorrow.

“If I feel fine, I’ma go,” he added.

Evans suffered what the team has deemed a bruised left knee, an injury he sustained in last week’s 97-89 loss to Minnesota.  According to the 23-year-old swingman, he hurt himself banging knees with Timberwolves forward Andrei Kirilenko in a pick-and-roll set from the wing.

The Kings guard practiced the following day, however noticed lingering effects from the injury.  He described the pain he felt in his knee as a pointed, “clicking” sensation.  But after diagnosis and examination, Evans was assured by athletic trainer Pete Youngman that it was nothing to worry about.

“Just felt a sharp pain when I was home,” said Evans of how his knee felt the day after his collision with Kirilenko.  “I was in bed trying to sleep and I was moving around, bending my leg and it caught me off guard.”

Evans didn’t partake in all of yesterday’s practice.  Instead, the fourth-year swingman participated in about 40 minutes of work on the floor, including warm-ups and drills.  Following the conclusion of practice, Evans spent extra time working on his shooting with assistant coach Jim Eyen and veteran swingman Francisco Garcia.

Kings coach Keith Smart is cautiously optimistic about having Evans back in the lineup for their next game against the Raptors.

“I think he will be,” Smart said of Evans’ status for Wednesday. “But can’t pinpoint that.  We’ll see how he responds today because he finally got back on the floor running and cutting a little bit.”

Evans finally started to hit his stride before suffering injury.  The numbers he posted after the Kings inserted Aaron Brooks and John Salmons into the starting lineup were very similar to the record-setting statistics he posted his rookie year.

Prior to the change in the Kings’ starting five, Evans admitted to thinking too much and dwelling on his mistakes – especially his jumper.  Simplifying his thought process and accepting that he isn’t perfect was a big reason for the improvement in his game before he got hurt.

“Knowing that I can’t make every shot,” Evans said of how he reached a superior belief in his game prior to missing the Kings’ last two contests.  “Whether it’s my first or my second shot that I miss, I can’t be going down the court next time thinking that I can’t shoot.

“They’ve been going in and I’ve been shooting with confidence,” added Evans, who had shot 50 percent on 9-of-18 attempts from mid-range in his last five games.  “Once I see it go in, that opens everything up.”

The Kings’ progress took a dramatic step back after Evans went down to injury, especially on offense.  In two games without their starting shooting guard, the Kings have shot just 40.4 percent from the field and averaged 86.5 points per game.

Smart liked Evans’ decisiveness before he went down to injury.  When the 23-year-old guard returns to the lineup, the Kings head coach must find a way to incorporate him back into the mix.

“He was doing everything,” Smart said of Evans prior to suffering his bruised left knee.  “He was doing what you thought he could possibly do as a two and locked in at the position.  And now you just gotta get him started again – get his game conditioning back.”

Statistical support provided by NBA.com

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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.