Call him what you want, be it a spark plug or a 5-Hour Energy can personified, but Nicolas Batum was certainly needed for Portland in Sacramento. The Kings did what they do to win, 95-92, with gunner John Salmons (19 points) and steady Marcus Thornton (20 points) each being more aggressive than any defender from Portland wanted. Batum made four threes in the fourth against Utah on Monday before leaving with a bruised left knee, and he didn’t travel. It showed. Wesley Matthews and Jamal Crawford combined to shoot 10-29, and they’re a good way to tell how Portland’s feeling on a given night … The Kings gave Portland a chance to tie it on the final possession, but Raymond Felton missed a wide-open three from the left wing and Crawford bricked a slightly more contested three from the right side … If MSG is the world’s greatest stage, Clipper night in Hollywood is growing into a decent venue, too. Too bad Denver locked up the place, blowing out L.A. 112-91 on the fourth game in five nights for the Clips. Like a lot of things in SoCal, this game was all about image — making you do a double-take at first, then realizing this game was ugly upon further review … Blake Griffin (18 points) showed things early that he’ll need to improve once he can’t rely on his hops. A left-wing J from 19 coupled with a turn around, step-back over Nene later in the first quarter got the nervous energy going in a building poised for a slam. When he dialed up a couple standard (standard means filthy for 99 percent of the league) right-handed strike dunks, it got everyone thinking L.A. could click on all cylinders. Well, then Denver outscored them 67-35 during the second and third quarters, led by Danilo Gallinari (21 points, 5-of-5 from distance) and — this was awesome — Timofey Mozgov. The Revenge of Moz featured turn around J’s, and baby hooks in the lane as he finished with 5-of-5 shooting for 11 points. On a night t-shirts were being sold with “The Poster Child” screeprinted on them (with Blake’s assault over Kendrick Perkins), the original victim of a Griffin superdunk got a nice taste of revenge. No doubt they were cheering back in St. Petersburg for that one, Timofey … And the All-Star starters were announced last night with no surprises. Rose, Wade, LeBron, ‘Melo and Howard for the East. CP, Kobe, Durant, Griffin (Amazingly, Griffin and CP will be the first Clippers to EVER start in an All-Star Game.) and Bynum for the West. Anyone you would’ve subbed in? … We’re out Shaq‘s All-Star picks.
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