LOS ANGELES -- As all the attention centered around one question for the Los Angeles Lakers on Sunday night -- will they get their Phil or won't they? -- the team still had to work to do against a division rival.
However, with Sacramento Kings center DeMarcus Cousins suspended by the NBA for berating San Antonio Spurs analyst Sean Elliott after the teams' Friday matchup, the Lakers could afford a little less focus.
Los Angeles built a big lead and glided to a 103-90 at Staples Center, the Lakers' second consecutive win since firing head coach Mike Brown.
Now the Lakers (3-4) await word from former and possible future head coach Phil Jackson, whom team officials reportedly met with over the weekend.
"We're all professionals here," Lakers center Pau Gasol said. "We are a talented team with high expectations, and we haven't started off the way we wanted to. There's been stuff going on, but at the same time, we're still capable of us going out there and winning basketball games. That's what we're supposed to do, and do on a regular basis."
In two games under interim head coach Bernie Bickerstaff, the Lakers have played looser and more care-free, particularly a starting lineup that had trouble gelling early in the season and during a winless preseason. On Sunday, Los Angeles starters combined for 81 points -- Sacramento's starting five had 52 -- with center Dwight Howard leading the way with 23 points and 18 rebounds.
Kobe Bryant had 20 points, six assists and six rebounds, and Metta World Peace and Pau Gasol each added 18 points for the Lakers.
"We were really out there freelancing; it forces you to communicate with each other," Bryant said. "We were able to feed off each other. We have some form of structure, we know what we want to do out there. But it's about communication."
Reserve guard Jimmer Fredette scored 18 points to lead Sacramento, and center Jason Thompson added 15 points and 10 rebounds. The Kings (2-5) forced 17 turnovers, but Los Angeles won the rebounding battle 50-39 and attempted 30 free throws to Sacramento's 14.
"We had moments, but we weren't able to maintain it," Sacramento coach Keith Smart said. "Second-chance points hurt us. That was a big part of the game for us. ... We did a good job of creating turnovers and deflections, but overall the physicality of them, the size factor kind of wore us down."
Howard had his first big offensive outburst of the season in the first half, notching 14 points to go along with 10 rebounds and two blocks. Bryant had 15 points at the half but shot only 5-for-12 from the field before the break. Bryant made one of three second-half shots.
Behind Howard's activity on the boards, and with Cousins out, the Lakers gained a 26-16 rebounding advantage at the half.
"We were down two bigs, and that was definitely tough," Fredette said. "Our front line was a little thin tonight, I thought guys battled really hard -- even guards got in, trying to rebound -- but that's what killed us tonight, those offensive rebounds."
NOTES: With Cousins suspended, veteran forward Travis Outlaw moved into the starting lineup for the Kings, with Thompson sliding over to center. Outlaw scored 11 points in 26 minutes. ... Lakers point guard Steve Nash missed his fifth consecutive game with a non-displaced fracture in his left leg. He is expected to be out another week. Nash weighed in on Jackson potentially becoming his new coach. "It would obviously be a coup for the franchise to have somebody of his success rate and his history with this club and with Pau Gasol and Kobe Bryant, in particular, it would be fantastic," Nash said. "For me personally, it would be fantastic." ... Los Angeles lost its season series with the Kings last season (1-2) for the first time since 2004-05. ... Sacramento rookie forward Thomas Robinson, the No. 5 overall pick in this year's draft, also missed the game because of suspension. He was penalized for a violent elbow thrown against Detroit forward Jonas Jerebko in the Kings' 105-103 win over the Pistons on Wednesday, receiving a two-game ban from the league. He also missed Sacramento's 97-86 loss to the San Antonio Spurs on Friday.