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Kings notes: Ben McLemore looks to continue free, aggressive play

Los Angeles Lakers guard Jordan Clarkson, right, passes the ball as Sacramento Kings guard Ben McLemore defends during the first half of Wednesday night’s game in Los Angeles.
Los Angeles Lakers guard Jordan Clarkson, right, passes the ball as Sacramento Kings guard Ben McLemore defends during the first half of Wednesday night’s game in Los Angeles. The Associated Press

Ben McLemore came into Wednesday’s game against the Los Angeles Lakers at Staples Center off one of his most solid outings of the season.

He had 15 points in Saturday’s win over the Los Angeles Clippers. For the third-year guard, the key is figuring out how to maintain that level of play.

McLemore’s scoring, rebounding and minutes-played averages are on pace for career worsts.

It’s not the way a young player envisions his career progressing. McLemore, however, remains optimistic.

“Just staying with the same mentality, just going out there, playing free, not thinking, not worrying about making mistakes,” McLemore said. “Just going out there and playing my game.”

McLemore is averaging 7.5 points in 20.9 minutes. He had six points in 18 minutes Wednesday.

He was benched earlier in the season, but after the Kings used James Anderson, Marco Belinelli and Darren Collison in that spot, McLemore became a starter again.

McLemore struggled at the start of last season before going on to average 12.1 points. But with the Kings’ only other viable option at shooting guard last season being struggling rookie Nik Stauskas, McLemore was allowed to keep playing until he found his way.

The addition of Belinelli along with coach George Karl’s preference of playing Collison and Rajon Rondo together has cut into McLemore’s playing time.

“I think I’m still trying to find my flow on this team,” McLemore said. “I know what I need to do. I’m just trying to figure it out. Last year I figured it out pretty fast. Now I need to get over this hump and push from there.”

McLemore’s greatest value might be on defense. The Kings have not found a player who can consistently make it tough on perimeter players.

McLemore has the size and athleticism to be that player if he plays with confidence and tenacity.

“This season I’ve definitely improved on my defense, knowing different personnel, where they like to be on the floor and stuff like that,” McLemore said. “I just have to be better and more aggressive like Coach Karl wants me to be and giving him the defense he wants every night.”

NFL crazy – Los Angeles is buzzing about the return of the Rams for the upcoming NFL season.

Clippers coach Doc Rivers, a Chicago Bears fan, said he looks forward to seeing the Bears play in Los Angeles.

McLemore, who is a St. Louis Cardinals fan, didn’t pretend to be heartbroken over seeing the Rams leave St. Louis.

“Nah, not really. I really wasn’t a big fan of the Rams,” McLemore said. “I’m not going to be on the bandwagon and say I was a fan. I’m definitely a K.C. (Chiefs) fan.”

Back-to-back success – The Kings on Thursday will look to win in the second night of back-to-back games for the second time this season when they host Atlanta.

The Kings had lost their first nine attempts to win the second of back-to-back games before winning at Utah last Thursday.

Jason Jones: @mr_jasonjones, read more about the team at sacbee.com/kings.

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