LOS ANGELES -- Mike Dunleavy went to the mat for Chris Kaman two years ago and persuaded management to give him a five-year, $55 million contract extension. The 7-foot center has been trying to repay his coach's confidence in him ever since.
"Mike doesn't (keep) guys he doesn't want," Kaman said bluntly. "He knows what to expect from guys, and if they don't do their job, he's on them a little bit. But he's not a negative coach. He's real positive, and I like that."
Kaman helped lead the Clippers to the second round of the playoffs in 2006, but slumped last season as the team was eliminated from postseason contention on the final day of the regular season. This year, because of Elton Brand's ruptured Achilles', Kaman has had more of an opportunity to display his skills.
"Mike knew what I was capable of and the great season I had two years ago," Kaman said. "I don't think my season was that terrible last year, it just wasn't as good as I wanted to be. It was a struggle. I couldn't finish around the rim and I just didn't play well.
"I felt bad at times when I was playing bad last year, but the contract didn't start until this year. And my performance this year is definitely worth what I'm being paid."
This was the fifth time in Kaman's five NBA seasons that he has had at least 20 points and 20 rebounds in a game. And the timing was perfect. It was the Clippers' first game following the two-day war of words between Dunleavy and owner Donald Sterling in the Los Angeles Times. But Kaman insisted he had no extra incentive.
"I would have played the same way whether that happened or not. I play hard every game, and I'm always going to try and rebound and block shots," Kaman said. "I'm just glad we got the win for Mike's sake. From what I understand, it was a pretty rough situation between him and the owner.
"I don't know all the details, and I don't care. I just want to keep playing and try to get some more wins. I think guys support Coach -- otherwise, he wouldn't be where he's at."
Before the game, Dunleavy told reporters that he and Sterling spoke on the phone and "are on the same page."
"We're both frustrated about the losses and we both spoke out of frustration," Dunleavy said. "I had a good conversation with him today, and overall I think I made him feel comfortable and he made me feel comfortable. I know he committed and wants to do whatever it takes to win, and I'm certainly committed.
"Basically, he said he's a long-term guy, he believes in me and he's got confidence in me, and I feel the same way about him. That's why I took the job."
The only other time the teams met this season on Dec. 7 at Sacramento, Kaman tied a career high with 26 points and had 12 boards in a 97-87 win.
In the rematch, Kaman had 11 rebounds and eight points in the first quarter -- including a buzzer-beating 22-foot turnaround jumper he hit over ex-Clippers teammate Mikki Moore after getting a long inbounds pass from Thornton. Kaman's first nine rebounds came during a 5:11 stretch in which Sacramento missed seven of 12 shots, along with a free throw on Moore's second attempt.
After the game, Dunleavy sidestepped the episode with Sterling and concentrated on Kaman's performance.
"He's a great kid, he works so hard and he's got all the tools," Dunleavy said. "Our entire coaching staff has been working a lot with him and he's learned so much. He's got great hands and great feet. And if you get a guy like that, you just know he's got a chance to be really good."
Mike Bibby scored 16 points for the Kings, who committed 22 turnovers and fell to 0-9 on the road this season against Western Conference teams. Brad Miller added 15 points and 12 rebounds.
"We turned the ball over 22 times for 33 points. On the road, you can't survive that," coach Reggie Theus said. "They play well against us and we don't play well against them, for whatever reason. They're very athletic, they play hard and they physically outplayed us."
Corey Maggette scored 11 of his 21 points during a 5:05 span of the third quarter, including a 3-pointer that capped a 19-6 run and gave Los Angeles a 69-57 lead. The Clippers extended the margin to 87-67 with 8:35 to play, as Thornton converted a three-point play and Tim Thomas followed with a layup and a dunk 28 seconds apart.
Kaman's 11 rebounds in the first were two off the franchise record for one quarter, which is shared by Michael Cage and Lorenzen Wright. ... Kaman's career high in rebounds is 23, against Minnesota on March 13, 2006, in a 95-87 win at Staples Center -- the same night Dunleavy recorded his 500th regular-season victory as an NBA coach. ... ... Kings F John Salmons, who sat out the final three quarters of Tuesday's 128-94 win over New Jersey with a sprained left ankle, was the first player off the Sacramento bench and had eight points in 22 minutes on 3-for-8 shooting. ... Dunleavy's career coaching record was eight games over .500 when he took the Clippers job. It is now 28 under .500 (563-591). ... Clippers swingman Quinton Ross was 0-for-6 from the field and has missed his last 19 attempts overall.