Thomas leads Sacramento with 32 points, 14 boards

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) -- This rivalry isn't what it was, mostly because the depleted Lakers and the revamped Kings don't really know who they are.

With the playoffs in sight, however, Sacramento is getting a good idea.

Kenny Thomas had a career-high 32 points and 14 rebounds, and the Kings beat the Lakers 124-105 on Sunday for their fourth high-scoring victory in five games.

Mike Bibby had 24 points and eight assists for the Kings, who blew out their biggest rivals with 68 points in the second half. Sacramento outrebounded the Lakers 62-32 and made 51 percent of its shots while scoring at least 118 points for the fifth time in seven games.

Coach Rick Adelman opened up Sacramento's offense after Chris Webber's departure, and the Kings have begun reaching triple digits regularly -- even before Adelman has settled on a consistent playing rotation.

Thomas, freed from the Philadelphia bench in the Webber trade, has benefited the most from the move and the Kings' wide-open style. He was dominant against the Lakers, scoring inside and outside against their subpar collection of defensive forwards.

"When you play on a team like this, you're going to get a whole lot of chances to score if you're aggressive," said Thomas, who went 10-for-14 from the field and made his first 12 free throws. "Every game we have right now is about learning how to play together before we get to the playoffs. This is a rivalry, but it's not the same to the guys who haven't been here."

Thomas had 14 of the Kings' season-high 43 points in the third quarter, when they took a 24-point lead. Seven Kings scored in double figures as they moved 1½ games ahead of idle Houston for the fifth seed in the Western Conference, which would set up a playoff meeting with the Dallas Mavericks for the fourth straight season.

The Kings clinched their seventh straight playoff berth during Adelman's tenure with a win at Portland on Friday night. Adelman didn't want to discuss the playoffs before the trip was guaranteed, but now he has set two goals for the Kings -- winning 50 games and finishing with a road record above .500.

"This team, we had changed so much that (a playoff berth) wasn't a given," Adelman said. "We were so up and down. I just didn't want this team to get complacent and just think we were going to make it. That's what this team has responded to."

The Kings have four idle days before a rematch Friday at Staples Center, and Adelman plans to give his players two days off before returning to practice with an eye on the playoffs. Sacramento must win two of its final four regular-season games to finish with 50 victories for the fifth straight season.

The Lakers have fallen apart in their first season since the departures of Shaquille O'Neal and coach Phil Jackson, who provided most of the verbal punches in the annual sparring between California's favorite NBA teams.

"It's completely different now," Kobe Bryant said of the rivalry. "The only ones (still) over there are Bibby and Peja (Stojakovic). ... It's not much of a rivalry."

Bryant, playing with his bruised right shin heavily wrapped, scored 18 points and endured constant razzing in the Lakers' 11th loss in 12 games. Caron Butler added 17 points, and Chucky Atkins had 15 points and nine assists.

"We got an opportunity to play everyone," coach Frank Hamblen said. "We're trying that so management can make some judgments. ... They just whipped us really badly on the boards. They're going somewhere, and we aren't. It's not an excuse, but it happens that way a lot."

The Kings played without forward Corliss Williamson, who served a one-game suspension for hitting Portland's Joel Przybilla in the head on Friday. Williamson didn't find out about the suspension until he already had begun to warm up.

Game notes
Lakers center Vlade Divac had eight points and three rebounds in perhaps his final game in Sacramento, where he spent the previous six seasons. Before the game, Divac said he hopes to play next season -- but only for the Lakers. "When I walk in this building, it will always be emotional for me," said Divac, who's still beloved in Sacramento. "I played my best basketball in front of these fans." ... The Lakers have made at least 10 turnovers in 16 straight games. ... NBA officials left a message about Williamson's suspension on Geoff Petrie's voice mail Sunday, but the Kings' president of basketball operations was traveling home, so the team didn't hear about it until Petrie got off his plane. "They have all our cell phone numbers," Adelman grumbled.