Find out how Evans has progressed as an outside scorer. Plus, Thomas and Patterson break down the team’s improved efficiency and dish on keys to slowing down the Bucks.
Entering his fourth NBA season, Kings guard Tyreke Evans held a 25.5 percent career three-point field goal mark.
After spending countless hours in the gym over the summer to improve his form and develop the utmost confidence in his jumpshot, No. 13 has converted 37.2 percent of his attempts from behind the arc in 2012-13.
In 10 games following the All-Star break, No. 13 has connected on a blistering 45.2 percent from downtown, sinking a career-high four triples against Phoenix on Friday.
“I just try to shoot the same every time,” he said. “I’ve been in the gym working hard and it’s been paying off, and now I just have to keep shooting the same way.”
While Kings Head Coach Keith Smart has witnessed the daily extra work Evans has put in to improve his mid- and long-range game since training camp, he admits to being pleasantly surprised by the Memphis product’s steady outside accuracy.
“I think everyone is surprised – I think he’s surprised,” said Smart. “But I think sometimes when you work on a certain skill over the summer, you don’t see the immediate payoff. It may be a little (longer) time coming, but you just have to stay diligent to what you’re doing.”
Among shooting guards, Evans trails only Dwyane Wade and Kobe Bryant in field goal percentage this season – and ranks seventh among all guards – according to NBA.com/stats.
“(I have) a lot (of confidence) – I’m just trying to shoot it without thinking,” he said. “If it goes in, it goes in. They leave me open, so I have to knock it down.”
– Over the last 10 games, the Kings lead the NBA in three-point accuracy (43.8 percent) and rank fourth in scoring (109.7 points per game) and fifth in assists (25.6), according to NBA.com/stats.
“What’s been working is us playing unselfishly, making the next pass and also guys just shooting it with confidence and knocking down the shot,” said Isaiah Thomas.
Smart explains better spacing and strategic play calling have led to improved efficiency and easier scoring opportunities.
“I think a lot of the shots are coming (when) guys are getting good, open, clean looks … where there is forced help,” said the Kings leader. “The fact we’re rolling a guy to the basket, forcing the defense to converge on that roller, and now an open shooter in the corner or what we call the arc-three are is wide open and guys are knocking those shots down.”
Newcomer Patrick Patterson has been pleased with the way his teammates have consistently found cutters and spot-up shooters.
“This team is definitely capable of moving the ball and when we do that, we show flashes of averaging high assists, getting great open shots with John (Salmons) at the three, Tyreke, Isaiah hitting threes, myself, Tony (Douglas) – the list goes on and on,” he said. “This team can score inside and out – of course, with DeMarcus (Cousins) as one of the dominant big men in the League – and great shooters like John on the perimeter.”
– Smart expects the visiting Bucks to run as many as 45 pick-and-roll plays on Sunday, revealing Sacramento’s focus will be on limiting the play-making of Milwaukee’s high-octane backcourt of Monta Ellis and Brandon Jennings.
“They have two very, very talented small players who can create a lot of problems and you have to be aware of where you need to be as far as help (and) where you need to be in your pick-and-roll coverage,” said Smart. “Plus, they can shoot the long-range shot, which makes it a little bit difficult because they can spread the floor.”
Patterson, who has impressed the coaching staff with his defense on both small and power forwards, expects a tough matchup against the multi-talented Ersan İlyasova.
“He’s an extremely gifted athlete … he can score on the perimeter as well (as) in the post, so he’s someone we definitely have to keep under control,” said No. 9. “If we rebound, push the ball in transition, use our size to our advantage with DeMarcus and Jason (Thompson) down low and share the ball and average high assists, we should be fine.”
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