The Boston Celtics survived a historic performance from Giannis Antetokounmpo as Jayson Tatum scored 46 points to carry his side to a 108-95 win, tying the series at 3-3 and forcing a Game 7 in Boston.

Antetokounmpo became the first player since Shaquille O'Neal over 20 years ago to eclipse a playoff stat-line of 40 points and 20 rebounds, finishing with 44 points on 14-of-30 shooting, going 14-of-15 from the free throw line and an even 20 boards. He also added six assists, two blocks and one steal.

But Tatum was matching him every step of the way on the offensive end, shooting 17-of-32 from the field and seven-of-15 from long range, with nine rebounds and four assists to go with his 46.

It was a game that the Celtics controlled from the second quarter, restricting the Bucks to 17 points in the frame to grab a 10-point half-time lead, and although the home side made runs, Boston had all the answers.

The Bucks were a one-man show, but the Celtics had a number of solid contributors as Jaylen Brown shot seven-of-16 from the field and four-of-seven from deep for his 22 points, while Marcus Smart shot eight-of-16 and five-of-nine from beyond the arc for his 21.

Al Horford finished with just two points, but had a game-high four blocks and a team-high 10 rebounds as he made Antetokounmpo battle all day inside, while Derrick White also chipped in with 30 important minutes off the bench, complimenting the stars perfectly.

Jrue Holiday and Pat Connaughton were the only other Bucks to score more than six points as Milwaukee shot 40 per cent from the field and 24 per cent from three (seven-of-29).


'Game 6 Klay' returns to clinch series 

The Golden State Warriors booked their trip to the Western Conference Finals with a 110-96 win in Game 6 of their series against the Memphis Grizzlies, advancing with a 4-2 margin.

To the Grizzlies' credit, without Ja Morant, they stayed competitive through three quarters, before a 32-19 final frame for the Warriors put the game to bed.

While most Warriors players rose to the occasion, none played better than Klay Thompson, who lived up to his glittering reputation in Game 6s with 30 points, shooting 11-of-22 from the field and eight-of-14 from long range.

Stephen Curry added 29 points on 10-of-27 shooting, adding seven rebounds and five assists, while Andrew Wiggins was strong on both ends, scoring 18 points, grabbing 10 rebounds and blocking three shots.

After being bullied on the interior in Game 5, the Warriors re-injected Kevon Looney into the rotation, and he collected a game-high 22 rebounds in 35 minutes, while Draymond Green had 14 points, 16 rebounds and eight assists.

The Warriors will play the winner of the Game 7 showdown between the Phoenix Suns and the Dallas Mavericks.

Kenny Atkinson is expected to be interviewed for the role of head coach with the Los Angeles Lakers.

Atkinson is currently an assistant with the Golden State Warriors, who remain immersed in the postseason.

He has been given the go-ahead to talk to the Lakers about their vacancy, according to widespread reports.

The Lakers fired Frank Vogel after missing out on the playoffs and have since been linked with Atkinson's Warriors colleague Mike Brown, former Portland Trail Blazers head coach Terry Stotts, Milwaukee Bucks assistant coach Darvin Ham and Toronto Raptors assistant Adrian Griffin. Former Warriors head coach Mark Jackson is another reputedly under consideration.

Brown has since accepted an offer to become head coach of the Sacramento Kings, ruling him out of the running.

Former Brooklyn Nets head coach Atkinson had a spell in Los Angeles as assistant with the Clippers in the 2020-21 season before taking up his current post with Golden State.

The 54-year-old had a 118-190 record across his four seasons with the Nets, and they reached the postseason only once in that time, losing in the first round to the Philadelphia 76ers.

In a disappointing 2021-22 season, the Lakers finished with a 33-49 record to miss out on the playoffs, two years after landing an NBA championship, despite having the likes of LeBron James and Russell Westbrook on their roster.

Giannis Antetokounmpo showed why many feel he is the best player in the world in the Milwaukee Bucks' 110-107 comeback win away against the Boston Celtics on Wednesday.

The two-time MVP and reigning NBA Finals MVP was a dominant force in Boston, finishing with 40 points on 16-of-27 shooting, keeping his side in touch as they struggled in the first half, and making clutch plays down the stretch to help the Bucks win the fourth quarter 33-21.

It was a bright start in the first quarter for Milwaukee, with Antetokounmpo only scoring four points as role players hit shots and Jrue Holiday had nine early, but their star had to take over in the second quarter as the offense stalled.

Antetokounmpo had 15 of the Bucks' 19 second-quarter points as the Celtics threatened to pull away, leading 54-42 with two minutes remaining in the first half.

Both teams were clicking in the third quarter, but every time the Bucks closed the gap, the Celtics had an answer in front of their raucous home fans, with an Antetokounmpo pull-up three to end the quarter needed to trim the margin to an 86-77 Boston lead.

With 10 minutes to play, the Celtics led 93-79 – and then everything began to fall apart.

The once-fluid Boston offense devolved into a stagnant, turn-taking, isolation-heavy mess, consistently not even beginning to attack until there was less than 10 seconds on the shot clock, often resulting in tough, contested, long two-point jump shots by Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown.

Trailing 105-99 with two minutes remaining, Antetokounmpo drained a clutch three-pointer to make it a one-possession game, before Holiday tied it up via a long-ball with 42 seconds on the clock.

Two Tatum free throws put the Celtics back ahead, before Antetokounmpo earned two shots himself. 

He scored the first – with blood dripping down his face from a cut above his right eye – and missed the second, but Bobby Portis was able to come up with the offensive rebound in a scramble and put it back in to take a 108-107 lead with 11 seconds remaining.

The last 11 seconds was a chance for Holiday to make a statement. Widely considered the best defensive guard in the game, Holiday blocked the shot of Defensive Player of the Year Marcus Smart, snatching the ball out of the air in the process to win possession.

After two successful free throws from Pat Connaughton, Holiday put the finishing touches on the game by picking Smart's pocket once again as he tried to bring the ball up for one last attempt at tying it, taking a 3-2 series lead, with Game 6 headed back to Milwaukee.

In NBA playoff history, when a series has been tied at 2-2, the winner of Game 5 has won the series 82.2 per cent of the time (180-39).

If the Celtics can win Game 6, the Game 7 decider will head back to Boston.

 

No Ja, no worries for Memphis Grizzlies at home

With their season on the line, the Memphis Grizzlies dominated the Golden State Warriors 134-95 as nine players scored at least nine points each with star Ja Morant out injured.

The Grizzlies were expected to be competitive without Morant – going 20-5 in the 25 games he missed in the regular season – but they were far more than that, opening up a 119-67 lead at three-quarter time.

Illustrating the one-sided nature of the contest, the Warriors committed 22 turnovers compared to 10 for the Grizzlies, and grabbed just four offensive rebounds while the home side snatched down 18.

Overall, this meant the Grizzlies attempted 19 more field goals (47-of-99 compared to 36-of-80), as well as 17 more free throws (22-of-30 to nine-of-13).

Desmond Bane, Tyus Jones and Jaren Jackson Jr top-scored for Memphis with 21 points each, and all five Grizzlies starters finished with a plus/minus of at least plus 32.

Klay Thompson top-scored for the Warriors with 19 points on an efficient seven-of-12 shooting, but he had the worst plus/minus in the game at minus 45.

Game 6 will head back to Memphis, and if the Grizzlies can force a Game 7, it will be played in Golden State

Ja Morant is doubtful for the rest of the 2021-22 NBA playoffs in a huge blow to the Memphis Grizzlies.

The second-seeded Grizzlies were already facing a huge uphill battle to make the Western Conference Finals after falling 3-1 behind to the Golden State Warriors in their semi-final series.

Morant missed the Game 4 defeat to the Warriors due to a knee injury that he and the Grizzlies say was sustained in an incident involving Golden State guard Jordan Poole.

Poole grabbed Morant's knee in Game 3, before the league's Most Improved Player left the court in the fourth quarter of another defeat.

Now, the Grizzlies will likely have to win three consecutive games against the Warriors without Morant – who has a bruised knee bone – in order to advance.

A team statement on Tuesday read: "Memphis Grizzlies guard Ja Morant exited during the fourth quarter of Game 3 of the Western Conference semi-finals on May 7 at Golden State with right knee soreness.

"Morant underwent an MRI, and subsequent evaluation has revealed a bone bruise in his right knee.

"Morant is doubtful for the remainder of the postseason but is expected to make a full recovery."

The Grizzlies performed well in the absence of the former second overall pick during the regular season, going 20-5 during the 25 games he missed.

But Memphis were held to under 100 points (98) for the first time in this postseason in Game 4, with Jaren Jackson's 21 points leading the team.

Morant had been averaging 38.3 points per game in this series, including tying his playoff career high with 47 in Game 2 – the Grizzlies' sole win so far.

Stephen Curry hailed Mike Brown's input after the Golden State Warriors moved 3-1 ahead in their Western Conference semi-final series duel with the Memphis Grizzlies.

Brown, who has agreed to become the Sacramento Kings' next head coach, is seeing out his final weeks as assistant with the Warriors and stepped up on Monday when Steve Kerr tested positive for COVID-19 and was ruled out of Game 4 duties.

Curry joked Brown was setting trends, after being made head coach of two teams in such quick succession.

The Warriors were held to just 38 points in the first half, but Curry stepped up, scoring 18 of his 32 points in the final quarter, including eight consecutive clutch free throws in the final minute as his team edged ahead and clung on to a narrow lead.

"It's been a wild day all round. You just had to figure it out on the fly," Curry said after the 101-98 win.

"We've been through this before. In '16-17 the coach had his back problems back in the day when he was out of the line-up but still had an influence, and Mike B stepped up.

"We didn't have a lot of time to react. We went out and tried to execute. We obviously didn't for three quarters. Defensively we were solid, but offensively we couldn't get anything going, and we gutted it out."

Curry became the first player to reach 500 three-pointers in NBA playoffs during the narrow win.

Brown's move to Sacramento was only agreed on Sunday and will take effect once the playoffs are over. With Warriors head coach Kerr sidelined, Brown kept the team moving closer to the Western Conference Finals.

"He had a lot of good words tonight," said Curry. "I don't know in history if anyone's been named head coach of two teams in 24 hours, so he's continued to set some trends.

"He's been through it all, been with us for this last six years, been interim coach for a little bit and made his presence felt, especially defensively."

The Boston Celtics produced an incredible fourth quarter to take Game 4 116-108 on the road against the Milwaukee Bucks, tying the NBA Eastern Conference semi-final series at 2-2.

A strong start for home side Milwaukee saw them hold the Celtics to just 18 points in the first quarter, but the tough play of Al Horford, Derrick White and Jaylen Brown helped the visitors back into the game, trailing 48-47 at half-time.

Performances went up a gear in the second half, as a massive Giannis Antetokounmpo dunk on Horford was then reciprocated, with both players receiving technical fouls after their respective dunks.

After a quiet start, Jayson Tatum began to find his footing, eventually taking over to score 20 of his 30 points in the second half, going 11-of-24 from the field overall with 13 rebounds and five assists.

Tatum was vital to the Celtics, but Horford was their best player, with 30 points on 11-of-14 shooting with eight rebounds and three assists, while also being their primary source of interior defence.

There were times when it appeared Antetokounmpo simply would not be denied, going on to post game-highs in points with 34 (14-of-32 shooting) and rebounds with 18, but he needed far more offensive help from Jrue Holiday, who shot just five-of-22 from the field for his 16 points to go with his nine assists and seven rebounds.

Antetokounmpo's 13 points in the third quarter guided the Bucks to a 80-73 lead at three-quarter time, but there would be nothing they could do about the offensive onslaught that was to come.

In the final frame, the Celtics shot 16-of-19 from the field (84 per cent), four-of-five from three-point range and seven-of-seven from the free-throw line, winning the quarter 43-28 and pulling away down the stretch.

Game 5 will head back to Boston, with Game 6 scheduled to return to Milwaukee. Game 7, if needed, will be played in Boston.

Chef Curry cooks up late comeback

The Memphis Grizzlies lacked the firepower to match the Golden State Warriors down the stretch, going down 101-98 as the Warriors established a 3-1 series lead in their Western Conference semi-final.

Without Ja Morant, who missed the game after suffering a knee injury in Game 3, the Grizzlies fought gallantly, leading at quarter-time, half-time and three-quarter time as their defense rose to the occasion and turned it into a scrap.

With Jaren Jackson Jr dominating around the rim – blocking five shots and snatching two steals – the Warriors were held to just 38 points in the first half, but poor shooting from Jackson (seven-of-21) and Dillon Brooks (five-of-19) bogged down the Grizzlies offense.

Needing a hero in the fourth quarter, Warriors superstar Stephen Curry stepped up, scoring 18 of his 32 points, including eight consecutive clutch free throws in the final minute, as his team edged ahead and clung on to a narrow lead.

Curry shot 10-of-25 from the field across the game, and four-of-14 from long range, with eight assists and five rebounds.

Andrew Wiggins was arguably the Warriors' strongest performer across all four quarters, shooting seven-of-13 for his 17 points, with five of his 10 rebounds coming on the offensive end, and he added two blocks and one steal to finish with a team-high plus/minus of plus 12.

Otto Porter – who is still just 28 years old and set to become an unrestricted free agent – continues to make himself money this postseason as he played a crucial 26 minutes off the bench, shooting four-of-six from long range and adding three assists with two steals.

Memphis Grizzlies superstar Ja Morant has officially been ruled out of Game 4 against the Golden State Warriors due to a knee injury he suffered in Game 3.

Morant, who was the winner of this season's Most Improved Player award, has averaged 38.3 points, 8.3 assists and 6.7 rebounds per game through the first three fixtures of the series.

It appeared Morant had a knee-on-knee clash in Game 3, but the Grizzlies highlighted a sequence where Morant got tangled up with Jordan Poole during a double-team near half-court, where Poole appeared to grab Morant's knee and pull it.

While it seemed innocuous, with the NBA announcing Poole would face no repercussions, Morant tweeted a video of the incident immediately after the game with the caption "broke the code" – before deleting the tweet.

The "code" Morant is referencing touches on a comment made by Warriors coach Steve Kerr, when he said Grizzlies guard Dillon Brooks "broke the code" with his flagrant two foul on Gary Payton II that caused a fractured elbow and sidelined the defensive specialist through at least the rest of the series.

While Morant's absence will be clearly felt, the Grizzlies may be the team most equipped to survive for a game without their star, finishing the regular season with a 20-5 record in the 25 games Morant missed.

Game 4 will be played at the home of Golden State, before returning to Memphis for Game 5. 

Golden State Warriors head coach Steve Kerr has tested positive for COVID-19 and will miss Game 4 against the Memphis Grizzlies.

Assistant coach Mike Brown will step in as acting head coach – a role he is familiar with.

During the Warriors' 2017 championship run, Brown went 12-0 as acting head coach in the playoffs as Kerr was sidelined for an extended period, with the Warriors ultimately finishing that postseason with a 16-1 record.

It is interesting timing for Brown, who was announced as the next Sacramento Kings head coach on Sunday.

He has been with the Warriors since 2016, after spending 10 years as a successful head coach beforehand, winning over 61 per cent of his games with the Cleveland Cavaliers and Los Angeles Lakers.

The Sacramento Kings are reportedly hiring Golden State Warriors assistant coach Mike Brown on a four-year deal to be their new head coach.

Brown, 52, has spent the past seven seasons with the Warriors, but spent eight years before that as a successful head coach with a 61.6 per cent winning percentage (347-216).

ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski reported on Sunday that Brown had become the focus of the Kings' search, with the franchise believing he is the right man to end their 16-year playoff drought.

When Warriors head coach Steve Kerr was sidelined during the 2016-17 playoffs, Brown stepped into the acting head coach role, going 12-0 during his stint in charge as Kevin Durant and Stephen Curry led the Warriors to a 16-1 playoff record and an eventual title.

The Kings' last made the playoffs in the 2005-06 season and have had 13 top-10 picks in the NBA Draft since then, including DeMarcus Cousins, De'Aaron Fox, Bismack Biyombo and Tyreke Evans.

Memphis Grizzlies head coach Taylor Jenkins told reporters on Sunday "there's a really good chance" superstar Ja Morant does not play in Game 4 against the Golden State Warriors.

Morant – who is averaging 38 points, eight assists and six rebounds in the three games against Golden State this series – suffered a knee injury in the fourth quarter of Game 3 after an awkward tangle at mid-court where Jordan Poole appeared to grab and pull his knee.

After the game, Morant took to Twitter and claimed Poole "broke the code" in the incident – referencing Warriors head coach Steve Kerr, who said Dillon Brooks "broke the code" with his flagrant two foul that resulted in Gary Payton's fractured elbow – before deleting the tweet.

Speaking to reporters, Jenkins said "there's probably a really good chance he won't play tomorrow".

The NBA has come out and said it will not be taking any action against Poole for his role in the incident. The Grizzlies trail 2-1, with Game 4 to take place at Golden State before returning to Memphis for Game 5.

 

Jordan Poole has refuted he "broke the code" with a play on Ja Morant that left the Memphis Grizzlies point guard an injury doubt in the Golden State Warriors 142-112 Game 3 win.

Morant posted 34 points, plus three rebounds and seven assists, but limped off with five to go in the last quarter after the Warriors man grabbed his knee in a trap near half-court.

The Warriors surged on to a blowout victory in the end, resulting in them taking a 2-1 lead in the series after they were edged out in Game 2.

That led to a fiery post-game response from the Grizzlies star, who tweeted and then deleted a video claiming that Poole "broke the code" in intentionally injuring him.

The Grizzlies are yet to formally confirm the extent of Morant's injury - but speaking afterwards, Poole knocked back suggestions his play was intended to harm his opponent.

"It was a basketball play when we doubled him," Poole said. "And I hit the ball and I was going for the ball.

"I mean, obviously, you don't want to see anybody get hurt. I'm not even that type of player. I respect everybody.

"Hopefully he gets better and, you know, we can see him out there next game. I don't even play like that for real. That's not my type of game."

Poole's grab is the latest flashpoint in a fiery series, with Memphis forward Dillon Brooks sitting out Game 3 after hitting Gary Payton II in the head, resulting in a fractured elbow.

Memphis boss Taylor Jenkins skirted an official comment on whether Poole's move on his player was intentional, instead saying: "We just watched the replay.

"He was going after a dribble and Jordan Poole actually grabbed his knee and yanked it, which kind of triggered whatever happened.

"I'm actually going to be very curious to see what happens after that. I don't know what goes through you guys' head.

"No, I didn't say that it went on purpose. I said the play happened. There was a grab. I'm just curious what happened."

The two teams meet for Game 4 on Monday at Chase Center, San Francisco once more, with the Warriors looking to go 3-1 up.

The Milwaukee Bucks escaped with a win in Game 3 against the Boston Celtics, claiming a 103-101 victory after a frantic final exchange on Saturday.

Boston trailed 103-100 when Marcus Smart was fouled by Jrue Holiday just before attempting a three-pointer to tie the game with 4.6 seconds remaining.

After making the first free-throw from a non-shooting foul, Smart intentionally missed the second attempt and got the rebound, but he missed his putback attempt.

Robert Williams flew in but the ball bounced off the glass, before Horford picked up the rebound, missed his putback attempt, got his own rebound and banked it in, but his final shot came just after the buzzer sounded, denying overtime.

Giannis Antetokounmpo put up a massive performance on the other end, coming up with 42 points on 16-of-30 shooting, 12 rebounds and eight assists, as well as two steals and blocks.

Dubs defend home court after slow start

The Golden State Warriors blew the Memphis Grizzlies out despite a slow start and poor shooting night from Stephen Curry beyond the arc, taking Game 3 out 142-112.

The Warriors coughed up seven turnovers as the Grizzlies created a double-digit lead in the first quarter, but once the home side took care of the ball, their shooting facilitated a comprehensive turnaround.

Despite two-of-eight from Stephen Curry beyond the perimeter, he and Jordan Poole were able to penetrate off the dribble and get the team great looks. The Dubs went 53-of-84 for the night with an extraordinary true shooting rate of 76.1 per cent.

Curry still finished with an even 50 per cent from the floor and hit all 14 free-throw attempts, getting 30 points and six assists. Poole contributed 27 points off the bench, while the team outside of Curry went 17-of-24 from the perimeter.

Ja Morant limped off late following a knee injury, finishing the night with 34 points and seven assists.

Memphis Grizzlies guard Dillon Brooks has been suspended without pay from Game 3 against the Golden State Warriors for his flagrant two foul on Gary Payton II.

Brooks was ejected less than three minutes into Game 2 for a foul described as "unnecessary and excessive contact… resulting in substantial injury" when he hit Payton in the head as he attacked the rim, causing an awkward fall on his extended arm underneath the basket.

With Payton – who was the primary defender on Grizzlies star Ja Morant – ruled out of the game, Morant exploded for 47 points to carry his side to a 106-101 win to even the series.

He will miss the rest of the series after being diagnosed with a fractured elbow as well as ligament and muscle damage.

It is reported that Payton may be able to return for the NBA Finals if the Warriors are to make it that far, while Brooks will return for Game 4.

Gary Payton II suffered ligament and muscle damage along with a broken left elbow in the Golden State Warriors' defeat to the Memphis Grizzlies – but he might not be out of the playoffs just yet.

The Grizzlies' Dillon Brooks was ejected in the first quarter of Tuesday's game for a nasty-looking strike across the head of Payton in midair, which was followed by a rebuke from Warriors head coach Steve Kerr.

Kerr said that Brooks "broke the code" of the sport with that incident, claiming it had been "dirty" play.

The Warriors were beaten 106-101 by the Grizzlies, leaving their Western Conference semi-finals series locked at 1-1 ahead of the next tussle on Saturday.

While Payton will not feature again against the Grizzlies in this series, it appears he could have a role to play if the Warriors go any deeper into the playoffs. For now, the plan is to assess his condition in two weeks' time.

A Warriors team statement said: "Gary Payton II, who exited Tuesday's Game 2 in Memphis after sustaining an injury to his left elbow, underwent an MRI yesterday in the Bay Area. The MRI confirmed a fracture in the left elbow, in addition to ligament and muscle damage. He will be re-evaluated in two weeks."

The Warriors also offered an update regarding veteran Andre Iguodala, seemingly ruling out a return until at least Game 6, should the series with the Grizzlies go so far.

"Andre Iguodala, who has missed the team's last three playoff games due to a disc injury in his neck, is making good progress in his recovery and will be re-evaluated again in one week," the Warriors statement read.

A seething Steve Kerr accused Dillon Brooks of "breaking the code" after an incident that left Gary Payton II with a broken left elbow.

Kerr's Golden State Warriors went down 106-101 to the Memphis Grizzlies, leaving their Western Conference semi-finals series locked at 1-1, in a heated match full of flashpoints.

The Grizzlies' task was made all the more difficult when Brooks was ejected in the first quarter for a nasty-looking strike across the head of Payton II in mid-air.

An X-ray later showed the extent of the damage caused and Payton II is set to undergo an MRI scan on Wednesday.

Kerr acknowledged the physicality of playoff basketball but was fuming with Brooks' play.

"I don't know if it was intentional but it was dirty," Kerr told reporters after the game.

"Playoff basketball is supposed to be physical. Everyone will compete, fight for everything. But there's a code in this league, a code players follow, where you never put a guy's season or career in jeopardy by taking someone out in mid-air and clubbing them across the head and ultimately fracturing Gary's elbow. 

"This is a guy who's been toiling the last six years trying to make it in this league, finally found a home, playing his butt off this year – in the playoffs it should be the time of his life and a guy comes in and whacks him across the head in mid-air. 

"He broke the code. Dillon Brooks broke the code that's how I see it."

Another heated incident saw Draymond Green raise his middle finger towards the Grizzlies fanbase, who jeered the Warriors star after an elbow to the face left him with a cut to his right eye that had nearly swollen shut by half-time.

Green was unrepentant after the game, saying: "[If] you gonna boo somebody who got elbowed in the eye, face running with blood you should get flipped off. 

"So, I'll take the fine, I'll do an appearance and make up the money. But it felt really good to flip 'em off, if you gonna boo someone who got elbowed in the face with blood running down their face, I could have had a concussion or anything. 

"If they gonna be that nasty, I can be nasty too. I'm assuming the cheers are because they know I'll get fined. Great, I make $25million a year I should be just fine."

Ja Morant was the hero for the Grizzlies, scoring 47 points – matching his postseason high – despite himself struggling to see out of his left eye having been hit going for a rebound in the third quarter.

The All-Star guard atoned for missing a layup in Game 1 that would have won the Grizzlies the game, a defeat he conceded was at the forefront of his thinking during Tuesday's contest.

"That loss was on my mind a lot, obviously missing that layup late," Morant said. 

"But coming into today, I told myself we needed a win, and we were going to get a win. I just took it upon myself to go out there and do that for us."

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