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Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Sacramento Bee - Tyreke Evans will use mouthpiece in return to Kings

By Jason Jones, Sacramento Bee

INDIANAPOLIS – True, Tyreke Evans needed some dental work recently.

But his teeth aren't Internet savvy.

That distinction belongs to teammate Carl Landry's teeth, which had a Twitter account dedicated to the choppers that were once lodged in the forearm of Dallas Mavericks forward Dirk Nowitzki.

"There's probably going to be a Twitter account for Tyreke Evans' teeth, too," said Landry, still in disbelief that someone would Tweet on behalf of his teeth. "People just don't have anything to do."

While still with the Houston Rockets earlier this season, Landry was struck in the mouth by Nowitzki's elbow while the Mavericks' superstar was driving to the basket. Landry, despite wearing a rubber mouthpiece, lost three teeth – two of them lodging under Nowitzki's elbow.

Landry was called for the blocking foul and Nowitzki, with Landry's teeth in his arm, shot free throws before leaving the game.

Landry has since upgraded to a thicker mouthpiece – "almost like a football/boxing mouthguard" – the same type Evans will wear tonight when he's expected to return to play against the Indiana Pacers.

Evans hasn't played since sustaining a concussion along with needing some dental work for chipped teeth following an accidental elbow from Milwaukee forward Ersan Ilyasova on March 19.

Evans has missed five games, more so because of the concussion than any problems with his teeth or bruised jaw.

After Monday's practice at Conseco Fieldhouse, Evans admitted that getting used to his custom mouthpiece hasn't been a seamless process.

"I was feeling good until I started throwing up from that mouthpiece," Evans said. "Other than that, I did good."

That bit of sickness had to do with Evans getting used to breathing with the mouthpiece.

Landry knows something about that.

He began wearing a mouthpiece two years ago after dealing with elbows from Houston teammate Dikembe Mutombo.

Besides protecting his teeth, Landry noted the mouthpiece can help prevent a fractured jaw (an injury it was feared Evans had initially) and concussions.

But that doesn't mean it's easy to play with one.

"It feels different," Landry said of getting acclimated to the mouthguard. "When you're playing, it feels like the breathing isn't the same."

Unfortunately, Evans learned just how difficult that adjustment can be. He said he didn't wear it for drills but wore it for 3-on-3 competition and found himself gasping for air.

"Instead of breathing through my mouth, I've got to breathe through my nose," Evans said. "I've just got to get used to it, and I think I will."

Besides the breathing, there's the fact Evans hasn't played in 11 days. When he tried to practice Thursday in Boston, Evans was pulled out when he felt dizzy.

Because of his inactivity, Evans wasn't sharp Monday, which was to be expected.

"Tyreke looked a little rusty, but he made it through the practice," said Kings coach Paul Westphal. "We'll see how he feels (today)."

Evans didn't act as if being winded coupled with learning how to breathe differently hadn't impacted him.

"I was tired," he said. "I fought through it though. I just have to fight through it."

The first time Landry saw Evans try out his mouthguard was in Boston. He understood what Evans was dealing with.

"I don't think he's that comfortable with it yet," Landry said. "It gets easier after a while."

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