Young Sacramento Kings come through with win in Summer League finale

Ben McLemore throws down on Mike Scott in 2013 NBA Summer League (Photo: Jonathan Santiago)

LAS VEGAS – After a painful week of drubbings, the Sacramento Kings finally pulled one out in Las Vegas, beating the Atlanta Hawks Summer League team 93-87 on Friday.  Rookies Ben McLemore and Ray McCallum led the way for a very young and inexperienced Kings squad in their final outing at Cox Pavilion.

  • This game played out the same way that most of the others had gone for McLemore.  He missed plenty of wide-open jumpers, mishandled a couple of balls and struggled with his handle.  And then seemingly in an instant, the seventh overall selection in this year’s draft got hot, busting out for a huge 19-point third quarter.  He’ll need a lot of work between now and the end of October to mature, but he can really shoot and run the floor.  Consistency is not yet his friend, but a final line of 27 points on 10-for-21 shooting and a team-high nine rebounds isn’t bad.  “He’s a great kid,” coach Michael Malone said of McLemore.  “He’s been working his butt off.  He’s given us great focus and he’s willing to learn.”
  • McCallum began the game with a backdoor ally-oop dunk, showing off his often overlooked athleticism.  But then he shut his offense down and focused on running the team.  The rookie second round pick played extremely well, leading the Kings with 11 assists in 31 minutes of action.  He will open the season as the Kings’ third point guard, but he is ready to play some minutes if injuries or trades change the roster.  “I’ve been very impressed with Ray,” Malone said.  “(He has) ability to get into the paint and make plays for his teammates and he’s learning.”
  • David Lighty hasn’t flashed big numbers in Las Vegas, but he has been a calming influence in an otherwise stormy sea.  He can pass, defend three positions and when his team needs it, he can score.  Today, the Kings needed him to put the ball in the basket and he finished with 16 points on 8-for-9 shooting in 20 minutes off the bench.
  • One of the biggest differences in this game was Nick Minnerath’s ability to hit the perimeter jumper.  The college teammate of Ray McCallum at Detroit scored 10 points on 4-for-6 shooting, including 2-for-3 from 3-point range in just 19 minutes.  He is going to have a tough time making it onto an NBA roster, but don’t be surprised to see him float around the D-League for a while.
  • The Kings finally moved the ball, tallying 20 team assists and only 11 turnovers.  The assists helped the team shoot 50.7 percent from the field and led to the team’s first victory.  It’s surprising how easy the game can be when you share the rock.  “Obviously, we played very well today,” assistant coach Chris Jent to media members.  “We took care of the basketball, shared it.  We just had a great energy and effort from everybody.”
  • The Kings finished Summer League with a 1-4 record, but they showed major improvement in their last game in Las Vegas.  This was the youngest team in the tournament and honestly, they looked green.  While there are some concerns with McLemore’s ball-handling, the 20-year old shooting guard has plenty of time to work out some of the kinks between now and October when training camp opens.  “I’m going to work on my all around game,” McLemore said following today’s victory.  “My ball-handling, (I’ll) keep shooting – get a lot of shots up.  Like I said, just working on a lot of things that I need to improve on and just my all-around game.”
  • DeMarcus Cousins showed up to cheer on his young teammates, sitting at the end of the bench throughout the game.  “I told him he’s our good luck charm,” coach Malone said following the game.  “I said, all of our other veterans came and we couldn’t win a game.  DeMarcus came and we got a win, so we needed that presence on the bench.”

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About: James Ham

James Ham provides coverage through news analysis and in-depth interviews with Kings players and staff. James is also one of the producers behind the award-winning, independent documentary "Small Market, Big Heart". James graduated UC Davis with a degree in history and is happily married with two children.