When Maurice Evans arrived at the trade deadline from Atlanta, he joined a team that was pretty loaded at small forward. But in the past month, the team has lost Rashard Lewis to a right knee injury, Josh Howard to a left knee injury and Al Thornton to a buyout. Even seldom-used reserve Cartier Martin was sidelined with right patella tendinitis.
The injuries opened up the chance for Evans to start two games, before Coach Flip Saunders decided that his contributions would be more valuable from the bench, with undersized power forward Trevor Booker getting that spot. And, in his past two games, Evans has given the Wizards some timely scoring and some much-needed leadership for a team that starts three rookies.
“Maurice is perfect, somebody who can make corner threes and bring that defensive intensity like Josh did,” John Wall said. “He’s a great guy to have.”
Evans is the only member of the team born before 1980 and the undrafted swingman also has the experience of making the playoffs in each of his previous seven seasons in the NBA. He constantly reminds his teammates that they are never out of games and he has backed up his words with his play.
He scored 11 of his 15 points in the fourth quarter of a valiant but failed comeback effort in Toronto, where the Wizards chopped down an 11-point lead to two before losing 116-107. And came back to score 15 points again, with seven coming in the fourth quarter of a 98-92 win against the New Jersey Nets. Evans has accounted for 30 of the Wizards’ 32 bench points the past two games. He has also been instrumental in the Wizards’ two wins this month, as he hit some huge three-pointers in the victory over Minnesota.
“Mo Evans has given us some great minutes these last few games,” Saunders said.
Saunders was familiar with Evans after coaching him in both Minnesota and Detroit, but Evans admitted that it took some time for him to get re-acclimated with the system. “I tried to be aggressive early on, coming here. I didn’t know what to expect. I didn’t really know no plays, didn’t know any offense,” Evans said. “We’ve had a chance to get a few more practices under our belt, as a result, I’m able to get a better rhythm. I’ve been getting extensive minutes, I just want to be productive.”
And, despite the Wizards’ 2-10 record since dealing Kirk Hinrich to the Hawks, Evans tries to maintain a positive attitude. That was much easier after the team snapped a six-game losing streak on Sunday at Verizon Center.“The one thing about our team is we gain confidence as a whole when things start going well and especially after we work hard, get stops,” Evans said. “I think if we can continue to build positive momentum throughout the rest of this season, I think you’ll see a growth in everybody’s game.”
The Wizards didn’t practice on Monday, so there is no update on the status of Nick Young (sore left knee), Andray Blatche (sprained right shoulder) or Josh Howard (sore left knee). All three remain day-to-day.