On Monday, he made the most of his 42 minutes, adding team highs of nine rebounds and eight assists against just one turnover. Evans carved up the Thunder’s defense with relentless drives to the basket. When he wasn’t converting acrobatic layups, he was drawing contact and getting to the free throw line, where he made 12 of 16 attempts.
Noticeably absent from the Thunder’s lineup as Evans was dropping 17 fourth-quarter points was defensive ace Thabo Sefolosha. He didn’t play a second of the fourth quarter. It’s unclear whether Sefolosha is on a minute restriction after returning from a 17-game absence due to a calf injury, but he hasn’t played more than 24 minutes in the five games he’s played since coming back. He played 24 minutes Monday.
“We tried many guys on him,” Brooks said. “He just got around us. He was getting around us, and he got some calls in that second half. But he’s an aggressive player. And he’s a very good player.”
Evans was the lone one remaining in a Pelicans uniform. New Orleans was without All-Star forward Anthony Davis, point guard Jrue Holiday, shooting guard Eric Gordon, sixth man Ryan Anderson and reserves Jason Smith and Brian Roberts.
“We’ve been short-handed all year,” Evans said. “I wasn’t supposed to play tonight. My knee was bothering me. But I knew we needed a win bad.”
Not as bad as the Thunder.
“We have to focus on our next game,” Durant said. “We have to win it.”