Tag:Erick Dampier
Posted on: June 5, 2011 7:27 pm
 

NBA Finals: Brewer ready if called on

Posted by Matt Moore

Corey Brewer is there, he's ready, but he's also happy as a pig in sty. There's been increasing calls for Brewer to get time over Peja Stojakovic, who has struggled defensively. The Mavericks are -10 overall with Stojakovic on the floor while Brewer has gotten very little time. On Sunday before a pivotal Game 3, Brewer admitted it was difficult attempting to stay ready to play at a moment's notice, but understands that this opportunity is too good to waste. 

 "It's difficult but at the same time it's fun. When I come in I've got to bring all the little things I can do to help the team win."

Brewer's length and athleticism would be a big help at times against the super-athletic wings Miami brings to the table. The big question mark has been Brewer's comfort with the Mavericks' defensive system, despite his instant defensive energy and athleticism. Brewer, though, says that's not the issue, and instead it's simply a matter of the team's success relying on its veteran core. 

"I feel like I'm comfortable. I've gotten some regular season games, a little bit of time in the playoffs. But at the same time, it's a veteran team. It's hard to argue against getting time because we're winning. That's all that matters."  

Carlisle hasn't reached the tipping point to play Brewer much yet, but if Stojakovic's shot goes cold, Brewer's going to be called upon for a spark. After that it's whether that energy can offset his inexperience and whether Rick Carlisle is brave enough to trust the young player to defend two of the best wing players in the game on the biggest stage.  
Posted on: June 5, 2011 6:56 pm
Edited on: June 5, 2011 7:18 pm
 

Mavericks C Brendan Haywood out for Game 3

Dallas Mavericks center Brendan Haywood is out for Game 3 of the NBA Finals. Posted by Ben Golliver. brendan-haywood

DALLAS -- Dallas Mavericks reserve center Brendan Haywood will not play in Game 3 of the NBA Finals against the Miami Heat on Sunday night due to a right hip flexor injury suffered in Thursday's Game 2. Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle told reporters in his pre-game availability that Haywood had been ruled "out" and that reserve guard Rodrigue Beaubois would replace him on Dallas' active list.

"Haywood is out tonight, so he will not play," Carlisle said. "It will change our rotation obviously. He's one of our biggest guys, we all know that. We've got some different scenarios. [Ian] Mahinmi will most likely play some minutes and then there's the possibility that we look at some other lineups that would obviously be smaller. We're going to have to adjust."

Haywood is averaging 3.3 points and 4.3 rebounds during 16.0 minutes per game during the postseason.

"I was hoping for a miracle and it didn’t happen," Haywood told Mavs.com before Game 3. "Hopefully I’ll be ready for Tuesday."

Mahinmi, a 24-year-old center, has played just six minutes in two appearances in the 2011 playoffs. On the season, he made 56 appearances, averaging 3.1 points and 2.1 rebounds in 8.7 minutes per game.

"[Coach Carlisle] told me right after the game to stay ready," Mahinmi told CBSSports.com's Matt Moore before Game 3 on Sunday. "So I've been working to be ready mentally and physically after we got back after the game Thursday. So I've been working on where we're playing pick and roll on [Dwyane] Wade and LeBron [James], and our defensive principles and rebounding. It's not like my team expects me to go out there and score 40 points and get 40 rebounds and block every shot."

Throughout the weekend, the Mavericks maintained that Haywood would be a game-time decision and that he was "questionable" with his hip injury. On Saturday, Haywood said he "felt something pull" as he chased a play in transition.

Carlisle reiterated that Haywood's absence makes it even more important that starting center Tyson Chandler, who is playing 31.1 minutes per game in the playoffs, stays out of foul trouble.

"Look, we've got to play the game on the ground as much as possible," Carlisle said. "When they get us in the air, that's when we foul. Their game is in the air and our game is on the floor. We're better when we stay on the floor.

"You can't preach too much to a guy like Tyson. 'Be careful, be careful.' Because a lot of his game is his enthusiasm, his aggression, his energy. At this point, 16 or 17 games into the whole playoffs, I've got to believe he's got a pretty good feel for things and he'll have to gauge all of those things. We obviously need him. We need a lot of other guys ready to step up as well." 

Beaubois, a 23-year-old guard, appeared in just 28 games this season after dealing with a foot injury and has not made an appearance yet in the playoffs. Beaubois averaged 8.4 points and 2.3 assists in 17.7 minutes per game.

Miami Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said there would be no changes to his active roster. Centers Zydrunas Ilgauskas, Jamaal Magloire and Dexter Pittman will remain inactive.
Posted on: June 5, 2011 3:04 pm
 

LeBron James promises 'attack mode' in Game 3

A snappy LeBron James promises to be in "attack mode" at shootaround on Sunday before Game 3. Posted by Ben Golliver. lebron-corner

DALLAS -- Seated in the corner of American Airlines Center with his arms crossed, rows of seats covered with t-shirts and signs behind him, Miami Heat forward LeBron James made two things clear. First, he didn't want to hear about how important Sunday night's Game 3 was. Second, he knows he needs to do more offensively.

This factoid has spread like wildfire through over the last 48 hours: During the history of the 2-3-2 Finals format, the series has entered Game 3 tied 1-1 11 times. The winner of Game 3 has gone on to become NBA champions all 11 times.

Asked whether that bit of history added an urgency to Sunday night's game, James, speaking flatly and quickly, did his best to downplay it.

"You respect numbers and you respect history," James said. "But Game 3 is it's own. We can't worry about a series or Game 4 or Game 5. We have to worry about tonight. That's the only thing that's important."

Minutes later, a tardy reporter asked James the very same question, attempting to cite the same number.

"LeBron, history says that the winner in this situation ..." the reporter began.

James didn't let him finish the sentence, interrupting with a shake of his head.

"The winner in one-one in Game 3," James interjected. "They already asked me that. Next question."

Another reporter tried to change the subject, asking for James' thoughts on being the villain on the road in front of a hostile Mavericks crowd. James decided he didn't want to hear that either.

"I have answered that question before too this year," James said, sounding irritated. "Next question."

The one thing James did want to talk about: Improving his offensive output. James is averaging just 22 points per game in the Finals so far. He has attempted just six free throw attempts combined in the first two games while shooting seven three-pointers in Game 2 alone. Expect those numbers to be different in Game 3, James promised. 

"I will be in attack mode tonight," James said. "Six free throws in two games for me is unacceptable ... We have to attack. That's when we're at our best."

Heat coach Erik Spoelstra noted after Saturday's practice that the Heat use its ratio of three-pointers to free throws as an indicator of whether they're being aggressive enough offensively. The goal is to always shoot more free throws than threes. During the regular season, the Heat were 51-16 when they shot as many free throws as threes. When they shot more threes than free throws? They finished 7-8.

During the playoffs, the contrast is even more stark. The Heat are 12-1 when they shoot more free throws than threes. They are 1-3 when they shoot more threes than free throws, including Thursday night's Game 2 loss when the Heat jacked up 30 three-pointers while getting to the line 24 times. 

"We can't shoot 30 threes," James said. "We can't shoot more threes than we did free throws. We talk about stats, we're not a good team when we do that. When we outshoot threes than free throws, we're not a good team."

James said Miami has the personnel to get the ratio back on track.

"It's simple," he explained. "We've got three guys that have been in the top 10 their whole career in free throws per game. Myself, [Chris Bosh] and [Dwyane] Wade. If we shoot threes and we don't attack we're not successful. We're not getting to the rim, we're not putting pressure on the defense."

Attack mode can't begin until the Heat withstand the immediate energy rush that goes with playing a road game on the road.

"We look at the first two or three minutes," James said. "We understand that this team will come out with a lot of energy. Their fans are going to be looking forward to this. They've been looking forward to this since they played them in 2006. We're looking forward to the challenge."

Even with the series shifting to new surroundings here in Dallas, James stressed that he felt like he knows what to expect on the court.
 
"It's going to be elecritifying in here.  Their home fans are going to give them a lot of energy. After that it's going to be a basketball game. It's going to be the same team we've seen the last two games. A team that offensively plays great, shares the ball and defensively, just tries to be active defensively, makes us take contested jumpers. It's not like they're putting anything in new. We're not putting in anything new at this point. We'll see what happens."

All eyes turn to James to deliver.
Posted on: June 5, 2011 2:37 pm
Edited on: June 5, 2011 2:52 pm
 

NBA Finals: Can Chalmers make a difference?



Posted by Matt Moore

Mario Chalmers had a great fourth quarter. And no one noticed because of Dirk freaking Nowitzki.

Chalmers has been criticized this season by fans, the media, and Heat haters, a religion unto itself, for not stepping up, for being the big question mark at point guard. Mike Bibby having taken his starting spot doesn't help matters. Chalmers has been in a rough position since he was drafted, trying to be the running mate to Dwyane Wade and never making the leap. But the Heat have stuck with him, and Chalmers has remained in the rotation for much of the season, always busting back into it when he's been pushed out.

In Game 2, Chalmers was a big part of the Heat's run in the fourth which established that 15-point lead they dropped. He went left off the pick and roll, and found himself with the lane as the defense collapsed on the stars. He didn't hesitate, drove straight to the bucket past Tyson Chandler for a layup. He had a similar possession minutes later, and the defense this time overreacted to his drive, leaving Chris Bosh wide open at 17 feet. I mean wide open. I'm talking, could have made himself a cappucino and some scones, wide-open. Bosh missed.

On the game tying 3-pointer, Chalmers calmly looped around the defense and snuggled into the right corner. James through a perfect cross-court pass, and Chalmers caught and released. No hesitation, no dribble re-set. Calmly knocked the shot down and basked in what should have been his moment. Game tied, Heat's defense would hold, Chalmers' 3-pointer would be pointed to as a huge reason for the win.

It was of course, Chalmers' defense that left Jason Kidd open on a key 3-pointer late, so maybe it was a wash. But while the Heat's hero-ball was failing, Chalmers had been punishing the Mavericks for leaving him. Chalmers told CBSSports.com that the Mavericks' specific approach was giving him chances, and he's trying to capitalize.

"You've got more opportunities, especially with the way they're defending. They're paying so much attention to LeBron and DWade, and they're packing the paint. I've just got to take advantage whether it's from the outside or on the pick and roll."

Head coach Erik Spoelstra said that finding a balance between aggressiveness and deferring to the Heat stars has been a work in progress for Chalmers all season.

"We don't want to be playing three-on-five. He's been working on that balance all year."

The Heat need an outside shooter, and Chalmers has been providing the spark. They've needed someone who could drive from the side off the overload from Wade and James, and Chalmers has done the job. His contributions aren't huge, but you have to wonder if at some point "'Rio" will work his way back into the starting lineup and into a heavier rotation with the struggles of Mike Bibby defensively.
Posted on: June 4, 2011 9:19 pm
Edited on: June 4, 2011 9:25 pm
 

NBA Finals: Saturday notebook

Quick-hitting notes and observations from Saturday's off-day at the NBA Finals in Dallas. Posted by Ben Golliver.

DALLAS -- Here's a quick batch of notes from Saturday's off-day practices.

Arena League Football Setup

The first thing you noticed upon arrival at the American Airlines Center is that all the signs say "NBA Finals" but the stadium floor is covered in football field turf and there giant Nets in each endzone. Here's a picture. That's because the Dallas Vigilantes of the Arena Football League host the San Jose Sabercats on Saturday night. The field setup displaced both the Dallas Mavericks and Miami Heat to a smaller side practice gym for their workouts.

Extra Off Day

The time off between Game 2 on Thursday and Game 3 on Sunday includes an extra day. Dwyane Wade said that the extra time off made the ugly fourth quarter collapse even more painful.

"It just makes it worse. As competitors, we could have went in the locker room, got some Gatorade and came out and played again for the mistakes that we made."

Tough Nemesis 

Wade was also quick to point out that he has never won a regular season game against the Mavericks in Dallas during his seven year NBA career. "Other than the playoffs, this franchise hasn't played well against Dallas, period. I haven't won a regular season game against Dallas in my career.n... I go into every year saying we're going to get one win against Dallas this year. It never happens."

In fact, Wade has won only one game against the Mavericks in his career: In Miami, during his rookie season, on March 26, 2004.

But, Wade noted with a smile, "I've been able to pull out five so far in the postseason." The first four coming, of course, during the 2006 NBA Finals.

Focused On Defense

Following Game 2, there was a lot of criticism of Miami's late-game offensive meltdown, as Wade and LeBron James settled for jumper after jumper and the Heat managed just five points in the last seven minutes of the fourth quarter.

Heat coach Erik Spoelstra wanted to shift the discussion, though, and he said he was only unhappy with three of Miami's final 14 possessions. Instead, he pointed to his team's late-game defensive execution as the biggr issue.

"They scored five straight times where we had mental breakdowns. That is uncharacteristic for us, particularly in the fourth quarter. That's where we've been able to seal games. 11 possessions going down the stretch, and they scored ten of those possessions for 22 points. That doesn't happen against us."

Despite finding fault with his team's focus, Spoelstra did sound impressed with the Mavericks' shot-making.

"Even if we broke down, that doesn't always necessarily guarantee that the other team is going to make up for that. Sometimes you miss open shots. They didn't. They made them when they needed to. Every mistake we made defensively, we paid for it.

That hasn't been a characteristic of ours in the last three or four months. We've beeen closing teams out defensively and had enough good execution going down the other end to be able to seal it."

More Notes


Posted by Matt Moore

Heat still down about Game 2

Two days after the Mavericks lost Game 1, they were back emotionally and seemed loose and upbeat. Two days after the Heat collapsed in Game 2, they still seemed emotionally wrought over the loss and irritated by all the attention surrounding it.

Most Heat players had less of a hop in their step Saturday, but that may also have been with 36 more hours until a chance to redeem themselves. Udonis Haslem was not happy with all the talk about the defense at the end of Game 2. Mike Miller was quiet, reserved. Mario Chalmers seemed unsure and on edge. LeBron James seemed dismissive, but then again, that's LeBron James. Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh were their usual upbeat, chatty selves.

No fooling themselves

Mavs head coach Rick Carlisle noted that the Mavericks aren't going to be able to keep coming back from double-digit deficits in this series, no matter how many times they've done it in the playoffs this year.

"It's very unusual to win a game like the way we did in Game 2. That template is not going to hold up long term in this series, we know that." 

Brewer's a maybe


Carlisle said Corey Brewer may be used more in light of the struggles on both ends by Peja Stojakovic.
"The one thing he's proven is that he's ready."

The Big (Honest) German


Jason Terry talked about Dirk Nowitzki's demeanor as "brutally honest" at times. He said there are times when he says he'll tell Dirk "Big man, we need you." or "Go get that rebound." Dirk categorized his relationship with Terry as "love-hate" with a chuckle. Both talked about how Terry coming in to replace Steve Nash was difficult, but that they've really grown together over the past few years. 

It's the rare case of players who have had tremendous success together and built a relationship from the ground up, even though they're not bosom buddies. Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook could learn a thing or two from them.

Finger fine


Nowitzki put to bed any concern about the left hand by going to it twice in the fourth quarter during the Mavs' comeback. At practice he talked about the finger really not bothering him, and just needing to keep it straight.

Used to the craziness


Mike Miller said he's used to the madness that is the media coverage of the NBA Finals.

"When you play with those two (LeBron and Wade), you get used to it."

Kind of a funny moment when Miller was left alone in a rush to get to Chris Bosh, the first time Miller's full time hasn't been used in the Finals with more coverage in Miami. Miller paused then said "All right!" loudly into the mic.

Trust the kid


Mario Chalmers said LeBron and Dwyane Wade didn't say anything to him after he knocked down the big 3 to tie the game at the end of Game 2. He said he feels like they trust him and that's what they expect out of him.
Posted on: June 4, 2011 7:43 pm
 

Playoff Fix: A pivotal Game 3 in Big D

Posted by Royce Young



The Big One:
You just can't ignore history. Not when it's as striking as what Gregg Doyel laid out in his column. Since going to the 2-3-2 format in 1985, teams have split the first two games 11 times. And the winner of Game 3 has won the series all 11 times.

So one of these teams will be facing history after Game 3. Not a fun place to be.

Now of course the obvious edge leans to Dallas, but the Heat were tied (with the Mavs, ironically) for the NBA's best road record this season. And with the way Game 2 went down, you can fully expect a more honed in, focused Miami team. The Heat were embarrassed by their meltdown. Which means they're angry. And angry teams play, well, angry. Which makes them scary.

The X-Factor: Psyche. Who has the edge here, mentally? The Mavs who are headed home with a split after pulling an incredible Game 2 win out of somewhere when they were trailing by 15 in the fourth? Or the Heat, who blew said lead and game, but dominated for 41 minutes and pretty much outplayed Dallas 90 percent of Games 1 and 2?

It seems like you've got to favor the team headed home with a mission accomplished feeling. The Mavs did what they had to do and now they've got home court advantage and three straight games in their place. Realistically, they could finish this thing off at home. But that also brings pressure because the Mavs don't have a lot of room for error here.

The Adjustment: Dallas really adjusted in the fourth quarter against Miami's pick-and-roll by hedging really hard and bringing their big men out to pressure the ball. The Heat's offense basically died because they couldn't get anything going toward the basket. Dallas sent two defenders at LeBron every time he touched it in the fourth, especially when the ball pinned LeBron near a boundary.

Miami has to be able to space the floor better, which is a challenge because Mike Miller isn't healthy. It comes down to Dwyane Wade creating space with his dribble and finding open teammates. Same for LeBron. Those two make everything happens offensively for Miami so they have to key in on spacing and making sure that the offense doesn't stall out because Dallas cranks the pressure.

The Sticking Point: Something I can't really get past: The Mavs came out of Miami with a split and yet, to me, it never really felt like they played their best kind of basketball. Except for the last seven minutes of course. The Heat naturally had a lot to do with it, but Dallas still missed a bundle of shots in Game 2 and never executed all that well offensively. They stayed in the game because Tyson Chandler kept a lot alive inside and they got just enough in transition.

That's a winning plan for Dallas because you can't hold Dirk down forever, but that also tells me this could be a dangerous game for Miami. The Mavs are going to play their best game at some point in this series. And if it's Game 3, a lot is going to be staring the Heat in the face. Including history.
Posted on: June 4, 2011 5:25 pm
Edited on: June 4, 2011 7:33 pm
 

Miami Heat react to 'celebration-gate' criticism

The Miami Heat react to questions about whether they celebrated too much during Game 2 of the NBA Finals. Posted by Ben Golliver.

lebron-wade-celebration


DALLAS -- You couldn't miss it.

The Miami Heat were pleased with themselves, up 15 points in the fourth quarter and cruising towards a second straight victory to open their NBA Finals series against the Dallas Mavericks. Dwyane Wade struck a pose in front of the Dallas bench after nailing a corner three-pointer. LeBron James machine-gun punched Wade's chest in exuberation as the teams headed to the sideline for a timeout.

It would be the last happy moment for the Heat, who collapsed in epic fashion down the stretch, giving up a 22-5 Dallas run to close the game. Following Dallas' 95-93 Game 2 win, CBSSports.com's Royce Young quoted Mavericks guard Jason Terry singling out the celebration as a turning point.

"Right at that moment, it was a turning point in the game," Terry said. "Obviously we come out of that timeout and we don't score, then we're pretty much dead ... I specifically looked at Dirk [Nowitzki] and said, 'There's no way we're going out like this.'"  

If the celebration served as motivation for the Mavericks, it also served as a key talking point for the media. The Heat, arguably the league's most confident -- or cockiest -- team, faced a series of questions about their celebrating after Game 2, spawning tons of articles and discussion about whether Miami had gotten ahead of itself. Reporters have even taken to calling the mini-controversy "Celebration-gate."

On Saturday, Heat coach Erik Spoelstra and his players brushed off questions about the outcry over the celebrating.

"Another storyline," Spoelstra said dismissively. "I'm not really concerned about that. I'm more concerned about how we executed or had a lack of execution going down the stretch. That's much more important to our team than any of the other storylines."

"That's part of the game," James said. "We're an emotional team. When we make plays, we can congratulate one another. I don't see why this whole thing has been blown out of proportion." 

James said his team's reaction was no worse than Mavericks guard Jason Terry's signature airplane wings celebration, which is a play off of his nickname "JET."

"I've seen Dallas go on plenty of runs before," James said. "You know, if [Terry] hits a three and they make a big run, if he runs down the court doing the whole wings expanded, do we count that as a celebration as well? I just think everything gets blown out of proportion when the Miami Heat does things."

Heat forward Udonis Haslem took things a step further, calling out Terry for his post-game comments about Miami's celebrating. "This is coming from a guy who scores a layup and acts like a 747," Haslem told the Associated Press.

Ultimately, Spoelstra said he would rather have an expressive team than one that simply goes through the motions.

"We're viewed in a different way than most teams. We have enthusiastic guys, exciteable players. I would certainly rather have that than a bunch of zombies out there."

Here's video of Miami's Game 2 celebrations.

 
Posted on: June 4, 2011 4:09 pm
Edited on: June 4, 2011 4:11 pm
 

LeBron James: Marion can't stop me by himself

LeBron James says he needs to be more aggressive and that no one, including Shawn Marion, can stop him one-on-one.  lebron-shawnPosted by Ben Golliver.

DALLAS -- Miami Heat forward LeBron James is always going to get his numbers. No matter who guards him, how often he faces double teams or what position he's asked to play, James produces, and produces big.

Over his last seven NBA seasons, James has averaged at least 26.7 points, 6.7 rebounds and 6.0 assists. Not a single other NBA player has hit those numbers once. 

Through two games in the NBA Finals, James's scoring and passing numbers have taken a hit. Despite playing 42.5 minutes per game, James is averaging 24 points, 8.5 rebounds and 4.5 assists and the Heat are averaging just 92.5 points as a team, down nearly 10 points from their regular season average of 102.1.

These aren't eye-popping declines given that defenses tighten up in the postseason, but any time James isn't performing to his usual standard, questions start getting asked. For starters: Is Mavericks forward Shawn Marion throwing him off of his game?

At his media availability on Saturday, James complimented Marion's performances during Game 1 and Game 2, but seemed to scoff at the notion that Marion individually had succeeded in slowing him down.

"I think Shawn Marion has done a great job," James said. "Especially offensively. He's picked up his game offensively. Hanging around the rim, getting some lay-ups, getting some tip-backs, playing around the rim. His activity throughout the first two games has been pretty good."

But what about the defensive end?

"I don't feel like it's one guy in this league that can stop me one-on-one," James said. "There's always a defense that's looking at me when I have the ball. He's the guy that's guarding me, but there's no one guy that can guard me."

When Marion has matched up against James, he's done about as well as can be expected. He's played both assertively and intelligently, competing regardless of whether he gets beaten for a highlight dunk. Late in Game 2, James was bottled up about as tightly as you'll see and he responded by forcing up late three-pointers against the shot clock that didn't fall, a critical factor in Dallas' massive comeback.

If James wasn't going to give him credit, Marion was happy to give it to himself.

"I've been doing it my whole career," Marion said of his defense on Saturday. "If you go back and look at my whole career, I've done it -- point guards all the way to big men. It's just another day at work."

Marion wanted to make it clear that his defensive abilities aren't simply a product of a new role he's taken on as he's gotten older or with this particular Mavericks team.

"I've always been a defensive stopper," Marion said. "I've always played defense. I had to go from playing the three to playing power forward. Name me players in this league who can do that. 6-foot=7, 225 pounds. Nobody can do that probably in the next generation coming. I've always prided myself on playing both ends of the floor. I'm a competitor."

So if it wasn't Marion stopping him, what's gone wrong offensively in James' opinion?

James attributed his decreased scoring to a lack of aggressiveness and pointed to the fact that he has attempted just six free throws in the first two Finals games combined.

"I do have to be more aggressive in the paint," James said. "Six free throws in two games -- I do that in my sleep in one game. So that's not me. I'm going to make a concerted effort to be more aggressive to try to get to the rim, create some more opportunities for myself and my teammates."

Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said he pinpointed three late-game possessions that were "very poor" and later Wade explained that those three possessions were the forced, errant threes from himself and James. "

James seemed to agree, singling out one aspect of Dallas' defense that he believed deserved praise: the Mavericks' unexpected decision to aggressively defend him on the perimeter during pick-and-rolls late in the game.

"They did some things defensively that they hadn't done throughout the first two games all the way. They started to blitz me [and Heat guard Dwyane Wade's] pick-and-rolls, a lot our sets kept us on the perimeter. We didn't get into our sets early enough to give us more time. So we had to take contested long-range threes." 

Forcing James to take contested, long-range threes is the definition of succeeding defensively against him. Marion deserves the praise for his Game 2 performance, even if James wasn't willing to give it to him.
 
 
 
 
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