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  • HECTOR AMEZCUA / hamezcua@sacbee.com

    Ben McLemore scored 22 of his 26 points in the second half of the Kings' 81-70 loss to Toronto.

  • HECTOR AMEZCUA / hamezcua@sacbee.com

    Kings rookie guard Ben McLemore, who struggled in his first two summer league games in Las Vegas, said it was just a matter of time before he found his shooting rhythm.

Kings' McLemore heats up in summer league

Published: Wednesday, Jul. 17, 2013 - 12:00 am | Page 1C
Last Modified: Wednesday, Jul. 17, 2013 - 5:11 pm

LAS VEGAS – Ben McLemore hadn't played like a star in two summer league games.

McLemore, drafted by the Kings for his shooting touch, had made only 8 of 35 shots (22.9 percent).

Kings coaches and front office personnel at Cox Pavilion weren't nervous or doubting the first-round selection of McLemore.

But what the rookie guard did in the second half of an 81-70 loss to Toronto on Tuesday showed why the Kings are so high on his future.

McLemore scored 22 of his 26 points in the second half. He sank 8 of 14 shots, including 7 of 10 in the second half.

"He was just aggressive," Kings summer league coach Chris Jent said. "He was committed to his shot. … I think his drive, driving the basketball early, set that up for him. Him taking the ball on the floor, driving on closeouts, gave him a little more space. When you do that, it makes you a better shooter."

Since practice for summer league began July 9, the Kings have emphasized McLemore's footwork and the best areas to find his shot.

After a first-half dunk, McLemore finally found his rhythm in a summer league game. Then the perimeter shots began falling in the second half, when he hit 3 of 5 three-point attempts.

"I was shooting the ball very well and just getting my feet right and comfortable and just getting a lot of lift on my shot," McLemore said. "Like I said, the second half, my shot started falling good for me."

McLemore said he wouldn't describe himself as disappointed after a third summer league loss. The aim is to work on his game in preparation for the regular season, which is also the organization's goal.

"You want to win games to set the tone, but at the end of the day, you know what this is about," Kings general manager Pete D'Alessandro said. "More importantly was Ben kind of emerged (Tuesday) and did the things we know he can do. Not that that was a requirement, either, but it was nice to see it."

McLemore was defended regularly by Toronto swingman Terrence Ross, a first-round pick in 2012.

Ross gave McLemore problems, especially early in the game when he tested the rookie's ballhandling and forced a turnover.

McLemore, however, figured out how to find openings in the Raptors' defense.

"(Ross) definitely made me work," McLemore said. "I was working all game. He was making some plays, and I was just making some great plays. He made me work and made me get better (Tuesday)."

What pleased the Kings was the fact McLemore kept shooting despite the disappointing results in his first two games.

McLemore said he was getting attempts he liked in the first two games, and it just was a matter of time before he found his rhythm.

"I kept shooting the ball, and I was more aggressive the second half," McLemore said. "Started driving the lane, getting to the foul line, just playing my game, just letting it come to me, and tonight it did."

The struggles of the first two games and the success McLemore enjoyed against Toronto are valuable to the coaching staff in preparing him for training camp this fall.

Unlike second-round pick Ray McCallum, who played three years at Detroit Mercy, McLemore is less seasoned with only one season at Kansas.

"It gives you something to look at," Jent said of summer league. "If nothing else, you look back at it and say, 'What do I need to do? What are the good things I did?' And as coaches, it allows you to help them more."

Follow The Bee's Jason Jones on Twitter @mr_jasonjones and read more about the team at www.sacbee.com/kings.

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