Updated Monday, December 31, 2012 at 01:01 AM
SACRAMENTO, Calif. — With the rest of the Sacramento Kings' backcourt banged up, Isaiah Thomas is making the most of his opportunity to start.
Thomas scored a season-high 27 points in his second start in the past six weeks and made one of Sacramento's two four-point plays in the second half as the Kings handed the Boston Celtics their third straight lopsided loss on a California road swing, 118-96 Sunday night.
Thomas, a former Washington Huskies standout, made 10 of 15 shots from the field. He was one point shy of his career high, set as a rookie in March.
"That guy has an infectious personality," Kings coach Keith Smart said of the 5-foot-9 Thomas. "He has that magnetism that brings players and people around to him. He brought that energy to start the game off right with him in the starting lineup. All our guards do a great job, but what he's been able to do is kind of give us a little injection of the steam that we need."
DeMarcus Cousins, in his second game back from a team suspension, made Boston pay for its double teams by posting 12 points, 10 rebounds and 10 assists for his first career triple-double.
John Salmons added 23 points off the bench and Jason Thompson scored 20 as Sacramento won its fourth straight home game.
"We played a great game as a team," Thomas said. "We were very unselfish. That usually happens when you're unselfish and you're playing aggressive — things start to open up."
Boston (14-16) lost games against the Los Angeles Clippers, Golden State and the Kings by a combined 69 points.
"Winning is hard. I don't know if all our guys get that," Celtics coach Doc Rivers said. "You have to play hard to win an NBA game. One game. It's difficult and we're not doing it."
Boston's Paul Pierce scored 20 points to give him 23,189 in his career, passing Adrian Dantley for 23rd place all time. Jason Terry, a graduate of Franklin High School in Seattle, also had 20 points.
17th game in a row
LOS ANGELES — Jamal Crawford, a graduate of Rainier Beach High School in Seattle, scored 11 of his 19 points in the fourth quarter and the Los Angeles Clippers beat the Utah Jazz 107-96 for their 17th consecutive victory, becoming the third team in league history to record a perfect month.
The Clippers went 16-0 in December to join the 1995-96 San Antonio Spurs and 1971-72 Lakers as the only teams to go undefeated over a month. The franchise-record winning streak is the longest since Boston won 19 in a row four years ago.
Caron Butler led the Clippers (25-6) with 29 points and Chris Paul added 19.
Al Jefferson scored 30 points to lead Utah.
• Tony Parker contributed 21 points and nine assists as visiting San Antonio beat Dallas 111-86, the Mavericks' sixth straight loss.
• Tayshaun Prince made two free throws with 10.9 seconds left to give host Detroit a 96-94 victory over the Milwaukee Bucks after the Pistons blew a 14-point lead.
Monta Ellis had 30 points and nine assists for the Bucks.
• First-round draft pick Royce White of the Houston Rockets refused his assignment to Houston's D-League affiliate.
Ex-Iowa State player White has spent most of the season on Houston's inactive list while he and the team figure out how to handle his anxiety disorder and overall mental health.
"I have chosen to not play, because the doctors and I believe it to be unsafe for unqualified Rockets front-office personnel to make medical decisions, as they are not mental-health professionals," White said in a statement.
STEVE YEATER / AP
Sacramento's Isaiah Thomas (22) drives to the basket against the visiting Boston Celtics in Sunday's game. Ex-UW Huskies standout Thomas scored 27 points in a 118-96 victory.