Evans didn’t complain and waited for an opening, which arrived on Monday in Chicago, where the short-handed Wizards were without Mason — who was waived after having season-ending surgery on his left index finger in order to make room for D-League call-up Morris Almond. Evans crashed through the crack and scored 14 points to help lead the Wizards to a stunning 87-84 comeback win over the Bulls at United Center.
“I’ve never been through this before, where I’ve actually sat out so many games with seemingly no opportunity to play,” said Evans, who has played in just 19 games this season. “Not to sound all Tebow-ish, but I’ve been praying a lot, maturing a lot and I’m glad I was able to stay professional and continue to help these guys when the moment came. Just took advantage of it.”
Evans was rewarded for his patience and the Wizards were rewarded for his diligence. Evans had 10 points in the fourth quarter, including a baseline jumper and corner three-pointer during a 13-0 run that allowed the Wizards to turn an 11-point deficit into a 70-68 lead. He then broke a 75-all tie with a three-point play and then played lock-down defense on Bulls sharpshooter Kyle Korver, refusing to let him get a basket in the period and limiting him to one field goal attempt.
And with 30 seconds remaining, Evans also stole an errant pass from Bulls center Joakim Noah
that set up John Wall’s decisive free throws.
“That’s what you call professional,” said Coach Randy Wittman. “He has not gotten a lot of time because of where we’re at, with the young guys we have. But with Mase going down and Morris not knowing anything . . . that’s what a professional is.”
Evans will accept the praise but admitted that sitting out so much time has been hard. He recently sat for a season-high stretch of 11 straight games before being handed some token minutes in Saturday’s loss to Cleveland.
“It’s difficult, but it’s not that difficult when they communicate, and our organization has done a great job with me, letting me know what my role is and my expectations are. And then, it’s a matter of me, as a player, if I can accept that role or not,” he said. “This is all happening to me at the right stage in my career. I wasn’t always as mature.”
Averaging the fewest minutes (12.2) and points (3.9) since his rookie season, Evans said he isn’t totally disappointed with how this season has turned out. He understands how he has helped fill the disconnect between the coaching staff and a younger generation of player.