<
>

Reserve Evans sparks Kings with 7-of-9 shooting

NEW YORK (AP) -- The first time Chris Webber laid eyes on Maurice
Evans, one thought came to mind: Who's the guy who looks like
Anthony Peeler's little brother?

"I'll tell you what, though," Webber said. "Over the first
two days of working out, I saw his effort and his strength, and I
said 'That guy is going to be really, really good. He's going to be
a force to be reckoned with."

Evans came off the bench to score a career-high 16 points, and
the Sacramento Kings kept the New York Knicks wallowing in
mediocrity with a 105-98 victory Tuesday night.

Webber scored 22 points, Peja Stojakovic had 21, Mike Bibby
added 19 and Brad Miller 16 for the Kings, who got only two points
in 29 minutes from starting shooting guard Doug Christie.

Evans, a 6-foot-5 swingman who was used sparingly by Minnesota
two years ago before playing professionally in Italy, made up for
what Christie failed to provide.

He shot 7-for-9 from the field to surpass his previous career
high of 13 set three games earlier against Golden State, and
Sacramento won for the eighth time in its last nine road games and
gained its first victory at Madison Square Garden in nearly a
decade.

"I'm a confident person, and I came here to try to contribute
something," said Evans, who has stepped into Bobby Jackson's role
as the Kings' first energy player coming off the bench. Jackson is
out for the remainder of the season after undergoing wrist surgery.

Evans drew the defensive assignment on Knicks point guard
Stephon Marbury in the fourth quarter, helping hold New York's
leading scorer to just one point over the final 12 minutes.

"I just tried to do the best I could to stay in front of him
and make him shoot over me, and I think my length kind of bothered
him a little bit," said Evans, whose worldwide career high was 36
points in Benetton Treviso's playoff victory last season over
Skipper Bologna.

"He really came in and gave them some energy," Knicks forward
Jerome Williams said. "He got to the basket, got fouls, he was
tough. He's a player, in terms of their weapons, that doesn't get
mentioned as much."

Marbury led the Knicks with 26 points, Nazr Mohammed added 22
and Allan Houston scored a season-high 21.

Prior to the game, Knicks team president Isiah Thomas said he
was more than happy with the way his team has performed this
season. The loss dropped New York's record to 16-15, though they
still lead the weak Atlantic Division.

The loss was the Knicks second straight, continuing a
season-long cycle in which each of their steps forward has been
followed by a step in the opposite direction.

"Unfortunately, that's the cycle of the climb," Thomas said.
"You don't go from the bottom to the top. There's always
intermediate steps. Right now, we're probably what our record
indicates -- a little bit better than .500, a little bit above
average, but I don't think we're at the top of the league or the
top of the climb."

New York allowed two dunks, two layups and a wide-open 3-pointer
during a 12-0 run to start the second quarter that gave Sacramento
a 34-21 lead, but the Knicks caught the Kings by opening the second
half with a 23-9 run to go ahead 66-65.

Marbury scored 17 points in the third quarter, and New York
trailed 81-79 entering the fourth.

The final quarter was tight throughout, Sacramento taking a
98-93 lead when Evans got ahead of the field for an uncontested
dunk following a miss from inside by Tim Thomas.

A jumper by Kurt Thomas made it a three-point game, but Webber
and Miller scored the next four points to lock up the victory,
Sacramento's 10th in 11 games against Eastern Conference
opponents.

Game notes
Knicks F Michael Sweetney sprained his right ankle in the
first half. X-rays were negative, but he did not return. ... Webber
semi-dodged a question about whether he's like to be traded to the
Knicks someday, although he did say: "There's no player that's
ever touched a basketball that I've ever loved and admired more
than Isiah." ... Sacramento's previous victory in New York came on
Jan. 13, 1996, when Christie was a member of the Knicks. ... The
Kings, who began a four-game, five-day road trip, play their next
seven games against sub.-500 teams.