Sixers 104, Raptors 97 – Box

Rebuilding or not, injuries or no injuries, it’s disappointing to lose and you’d think that as a Raptors fan you’d be used to it by now, but it still stings. It does sting a little less because of the 1000mg rebuilding pill which we all take daily (side-effects include nausea, shortness of breath and a general distaste for anything to do with Leo Rautins). The forecast didn’t look good even before the game started, this was a matchup of two teams heading in opposite directions. The Raptors coming in losers of eight straight, and the Sixers having won two in a row and picking up steam of late. The Sixers team which shifted into a higher gear to beat the Raptors last night shouldn’t be confused with the one which lost the first two games to the Raptors earlier this season. Whereas the Sixers have come together and are a legitimate low playoff seed, the Raptors have never materialized into the team that optimists hoped they would become.

The story of late has been DeMar DeRozan’s adopting the Raptors as a stage for showcasing his talents, and that theme continued against some pretty good Philly defenders. DeRozan had 11 first quarter points and was hitting his jumper with regularity. The hot start was complementary to a functioning offense led by Jose Calderon’s guardianship in the half-court and the Raptors contesting Philadelphia’s jump shots in the first quarter. The 29-20 first quarter lead did seem a bit flaky because of Philly’s 36% shooting which, given the Raptors 29th ranked defense, would surely rise as the game evolved.

As it has been the case numerous times this season, the hammer came in the second quarter in the form of the Sixer second unit. With Kleiza and Barbosa missing, Weems being out of sorts, Alexis Ajinca being Alexis Ajinca, and some guy named Trey Johnson handling the rock, the bench got their ass kicked. They conceded a 17-4 run which knocked the sail out of the winds and capitulated any momentum the Raptors might carry through for the rest of the game. The final bench scoring read 58-17, most of the damage being done by Marreese Speights who had 23 points in 17 minutes on 10-12 shooting. The mobility of the 6’10” center hurt the Raptors on the offense glass, he was able to collect 6 offensive rebounds over Raptors bigs and was the primary reason behind the Sixers +10 advantage on the glass (+8 on the offensive boards). The Raptors are 23rd in the league in defensive rebounding percentage and it showed.

The Raptors bigs didn’t just neglect their rebounding duties (nobody had more than 6 rebounds), they also let the Sixers run wild in the paint – 56-30 are the points in the paint numbers. Granted, a lot of them are fastbreak ones which no big can help, but many of them are failing to keep tabs with the crisp and methodical interior passing of Doug Collins’ side. Spencer Hawes picked up a couple assists that were nothing short of beautiful, and when you have Andre Iguodala putting his ego aside and playing total team basketball, the Sixer team adds another dimension.

The Raptors’ most effective defensive scheme was the zone which Triano now deploys consistently, except that teams are now figuring out how to get around it. Their guards were dribbling to the weak spot in the zone and then making dump-offs which led to high percentage paint shots. Elton Brand had his post-up game working which meant the Raptors big men had to both play post-defense and worry about collecting the boards, which is hard to do if you can’t think on your feet. The Sixers also beat the Raptors at their own game – fastbreak points. The final tally was 30-22, the weary Raptors had trouble adjusting with the Sixers’ pace in transition which was compounded by Philly leaking out pretty much on every possession, fully confident that they didn’t need extra bodies to secure the defensive boards.

It was tied at 50 at halftime, and P.J. Carlesimo was lamenting the bench’s play and the Raptors giving up offensive boards. The third quarter belonged to Lou Williams who, along with Speights, symbolize the dominance of the Sixer bench. He hit three threes and had 11 points in the third, most of them in semi-transition to really put a dent in the Raptors tracks. DeMar DeRozan was chipping away with his drives, Bargnani (playing hurt, really) was hitting the odd jumper and playing good on-the-ball defense , and Calderon was doing his part in finding seams in the defense to stuff his passes through, all the while being exhausted playing on a bum foot. If it weren’t for Williams’ outburst, this could’ve been a tighter game heading into the fourth with momentum hanging somewhere in the middle. As it was, it was a 7 point deficit with the Raptors on the ropes and Philly smelling blood.

There are two things that sit very wrong with me. Calderon playing 38 minutes while Bayless plays 14, and Ed Davis playing only 17. Calderon had a 13 assist game which looks good on paper, except that the guy was up to his neck against Holiday and Williams, who were starting every possession by at least pegging Jose back. It would have been a good challenge for Bayless to go out there and compete with fellow young point guards and see where he stands against them, instead we saw an injured Jose labor for 38 minutes! The only logical conclusion I can draw is that with the deadline approaching, the Raptors are seeing what he can attract.

Triano spoke about the guards and the bigs’ defense:

We couldn’t keep them in front of us and conversely they did a great job of keeping us in front of them. I thought our defense was very porous all night. They got into where they wanted to go, it started at the guard positions, they got three guys, Lous Williams, Iguodala and Holiday who are very good. We couldn’t keep those guys in front of us, it puts our bigs in a bit of a hole and our bigs weren’t as enforcing as we need to be when coming into the lane.

This leads to the age old question which we have often debated on the Rapcast. Pick which one of the following you agree with more:

  1. It is the guard’s responsibility to keep their man in front of them and not allow themselves to be broken down. Baskets leading through dribble penetration are largely to be blamed on “blow-bys”.
  2. Dribble penetration is inevitable in this league full of great guards, and a team must be designed expecting the guard to be broken down and must be shored up with proper interior help defenders.

Have your say. Back to Triano’s quote, if he’s so concerned with dribble penetration, why not give Bayless more time? Seems to add up for me.

Ed Davis’ 17 minutes are even more confusing, even if Speights got a score or two on him, surely gluing him to the bench isn’t going to teach him anything, it’s not like he’s got effort issues that need mulling over. I would have liked to see the Raptors adjust and adopt a big lineup with the aim being to restrict the offensive rebounds. This one didn’t make much sense. Julian Wright got the start and played 26 minutes, closer to his ability. They gave him some wide open looks which he took…and missed. To add more misery to his already miserable week, he missed a couple close ones too. It’s been a bad week for Wright with Gay hitting the game-winner over him, and it’s taken a bit of a hit on him. His wing defense was still the best on the team, but all you remember is how he was unable to make simple shots which an NBA player should make. We knew it’s his weakness and that he has to work on it, nothing much to be said about it.

Andrea Bargnani played 38 minutes and I can tell you it didn’t look like it. The box score is respectable enough: 17pts, 6-10FG, 5reb, 3blk, and so was the effort. All things considered, he had it going tonight except for the touches. Maybe it’s oversight on the part of Calderon and the rest of his mates, or maybe it’s Bargnani not being demanding enough of the ball. At the end of this one you just got the sense that he had more to offer than what we asked of him. Defensively, he was alert and active, except for the rebounding bit 😐 Triaon did complement the Philly defense for slowing him down:

They didn’t allow Andrea any catches, anywhere. They worked hard to take him out of our offense and DeMar stepped up a little bit, but other than that we didn’t have a lot.

A 10-4 Philly run to start the fourth with Trey Johnson and Jerryd Bayless running the show iced the game. Bayless was rusty because of not being played and sitting on the sideline for a good five minutes waiting to be subbed in, and Johnson makes Sundaita Gaines look like a find. There was no way back. Triano had called a couple quick timeouts earlier which seemed to have some effect and I expected him to call one early in the fourth too, he didn’t and I’m not sure it would have made a difference. The Raptors traded baskets for a while and invariably committed some key turnovers which shattered any possibility of a comeback, and it would have been a miraculous one given the energy that was on the floor last night. From Amir Johnson to Andrea Bargnani, the rebounding and interior dominance wasn’t there, and from Jose Calderon to any other point guard, not enough pressure was put on the Philly backcourt which did what they wanted when they wanted it. Teams shooting 49% at home don’t usually lose, unless of course you give up the same number and get hammered on the glass.

Finally, a segment we haven’t done this year. Usually this is done in praise of Jack Armstrong. Not today.

Jack Armstrong is a rock solid color commentator, one of the best in the business and easily the best the Raptors have ever had. He found a very weird way to compliment Bryan Colangelo last night, this is him commenting about how dedicated Bryan Colangelo is because he re-upped Gaines’ 10-day deal before releasing him after two days (in favor of Trey Johnson).


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Jack, this is truly scraping the bottom of the barrel in terms of compliments for Bryan Colangelo. What’s next, should we be thankful that he’s fielding a 15-man roster?

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51 Responses to “More Pain, No Gain – Raptors Lose 9th Straight”

  1. smushmush

    In a league of no hand-checking, there will be more blow-bys happening past the guards. What the guards can do:-

    1. Funnel the player towards help from your big man.(We clearly do not have that).
    2. Anticipate the passing lane for steals.
    3. Throw double teams once in a while to throw the opponent guard off.
    4. Shuffle your feet across a la Ron Artest.

    1,4 are really recommended. 2 is not really defense, it is gambling(sort of a good blocking big man still plays bad defense) and 3 is situational.

    • Alucart999

      Re 1: It’s not just the Bigs responsibility to help. Every single player on the Court has an opportunity to “show” help if they’re in the area. If you look at Boston’s defence, for example, there are always two and sometimes three defenders in the area if a guard is trying to break down the D. That’s a lot of resistance to look at and makes players like Kobe think twice about trying to get into the lane. What Boston is exceptional at is recovering to their own man once the ball starts moving.

  2. Sam Holako

    Bayless isn’t that much better defensively than Calderon, I don’t know that giving him more minutes would have slowed Holliday/Williams down any.

  3. KJ-B

    I dunno, if I really learnt anything here… I just know that we are what our record says we are… I mean the only two guys who should be guaranteed on consistent PT is Jose/DD at the moment… Every1 else is playing in spurts including Bayless, which is why he was glued to the bench–Mike Conley doesn’t really have that defensive rep (yah he steals the ball here and there but nothing to intimidating)…

    I really don’t see it the same way with Ajinca, but then again I don’t see a lot things the same way as the folk on here (see: DeRozan averaging 20 ppg over a 20 game stretch with a jumper to boot, which y’all said was all but impossible this year)… All I saw in Ajinca, was a wild animal let out of a cage that hadn’t tasted freedom in a loooong time… I think, he should be given more PT… The thing about it is, until some of the ‘mainstays’ like #7 and or Calderon don’t get moved, the culture of losing will never change!

    I think the thing that we miss (see: Chris Bosh) is that all of these guys on this team were role players, supporting actors before this year AND the only guy was ever the dominant-man on his team before this year was, did you guess it, DEMAR DEROZAN… Under pressure, ppl do what is most comfortable, 2nd nature to them–#7 not boxing out and letting Amir wrestle 3 guys at 10:15 of the 3rd Q says everything about his view of what A STARTING CENTER NBA is hired to do… It’s a joke really at the mismatched talent on this team… I’d say we only have two NBA starters on our entire roster in DeRozan and Calderon (Davis still needs that polish)… So to expect anything but what we’re seeing would be preposteous!!!

    […and I didn’t even mention good ol’ Turk!]

    • Daniel

      DeRozan is not a starter in this League. He is a scorer in a bad team. Also he is the hope at the end of a never-ending tunnel. His dribble is grade 5 level, his shot is off, his defense is atrocious. I like him and I root for him because of his work ethic and passion for the game however he is a very unskilled b-ball player, even for a 21 years old.

      • yertu damkule

        as a hater, i’m compelled to mention that the above could be used to describe bargnani to a *T*, except the ‘work ethic’ & ‘passion’ parts would have to be removed…

      • Arsenalist

        On a team with any sort of ambition this year, you’re right, he’s not a starter. That doesn’t mean he shouldn’t start for the Raptors. Nicolas Batum wasn’t good enough to start 76 of 79 games his first year either, that doesn’t mean starting him wasn’t a good idea for the Blazers.

        This team is going nowhere fast, we’re HOPING that mediocre players develop into greater ones. I’m not saying it’s a winning strategy, but it’s the only one BC has right now.

    • C.d.G.

      I’m just forced to repeat:
      KJ-B, you are just the tenth million and two to suggest that Jose and Bargs must go. Not sure this kind of witch hunt will bring some positives for the team. What I’m sure of, is that Jose and Bargs will be frankly relieved being somewhere else! More, if I’m one of them, I get up tomorrow and ask to be traded!

    • Maleko

      “–#7 not boxing out and letting Amir wrestle 3 guys at 10:15 of the 3rd Q says everything about his view of what A STARTING CENTER NBA is hired to do…”

      EXACTLY what frustrates me. I saw the exact same thing and just seeing him standing 4 feet away, mouth open and just WATCHING. Shameful, and I don’t care what the Bargnani lovers say, it’s ridiculous.

  4. 511

    If this is what tanking is all about, it really sucks. Never mind not seeing the light at the end of the tunnel … I’m not even seeing the tunnel. What kind of season is it when I’m looking forward to an event like the dunk-off as a possible highlight of our year? Geez.

  5. Milesboyer

    It’s clear at this point that development of young players should be the top priority for this organization, so having Bayless and Davis play so few minutes is a bit perplexing. Is there really any need for Trey Johnson to play at all? Davis probably lost some of his minutes to Ajinca, who I think is worth checking out, but he should be getting 30min PT on a nightly basis no matter what.
    As for Bayless, he really, really needs to work on not picking up his dribble. One of the most basic things a point guard needs to do, is keep his dribble alive and if he doesn’t figure that out soon, he won’t go very far in this league. Can’t get a read on the guy really – one night he looks good, another night he looks useless. More PT would definitely help his development and help figure out wether he is worth retaining as part of the core.
    I think we are seeing what Julian Wright is all about with the extended time he’s getting. He’s like the Tin man from the Wizard of Oz, except his mantra would be “if I only had a shot”.

    • KJ-B

      The thing is, there is only 96 minutes to go around between the 4-5 spots AND Reggie! Reggie! Reggie! Is rehabbing so he can get his butt traded outta here so he doesn’t “miss the playoffs again”… Does some1 have to get traded to make that happen? Of course!

      The trade deadline is gonna be B-A-N-A-N-A-S!!!

    • Statement


      I agree that young players should have a chance to develop. But the problem is, very few players develop by leaps and bounds, on average. Basically, if you are far below average (Derozan) coming into the league, you MAY develop into an average player.

      The two players who I can remember developing into very strong players after their first year are Kevin Durant and Chauncey Billups (although the latter was jerked around in his first few years, if memory serves, which is DEFINITELY not the case with Derozan).

      Same thing with Bayless. He basically is who he is at this point, I think.

      Ed Davis to me is already a good enough player, he needs to develop a jumpshot or post moves (which are easier to develop IMHO than improving defense and rebounding)

      Amir Johnson is who he is, but he is already a good player.

      Jose Calderon is who he is, but he is already a good player.

      The moral of the story is, DRAFT GOOD PLAYERS, period. Then these good players develop into even better players. Don’t draft completely raw players (Derozan, Bargnani) and wait 5 years or so for them to become below-average to average players.

      Derozan MAY develop into a really good two-way player, but the odds don’t favour it. You have to be smart in drafting, forget about “upside” and all that.

      DRAFT GOOD PLAYERS who are quality from day 1.

      • Milesboyer

        Good points. The other thing to consider is the value of having a stable core play together. They may not improve by leaps and bounds as individuals, but there is alot to be said for growing as a unit. The Atlanta Hawks are a good example of this, although they have some very good players. A big problem with the Raptors right now is that there is no consistency with the lineup. Philly looked very much like a team that had a groove going, while the Raptors looked…..not so fluid. Regardless, there is nothing to play for this year really, so get the young guys some PT and see what you got.

        • Statement

          I think that there is certainly merit to what you are saying regarind playing together for a long time. I think that it helps the players understand each others tendencies. Good point on that.

          One thing I will mention though,

          In Josh Smith’s rookie year, his WP/48 (Wins Produced /48 minutes) was .150 (average .100), meaning that he was already an above average player when he was drafted. Also, Al Horford’s WP/48 was .139 in his rookie year, meaning that he was also above average when drafted.

          Joe Johnson is a nice player, but I think that Atl’s success is more tied to the first two than Joe Johnson or….Jamal Crawford (Crawford, seriously? LOL).

          • KJ-B

            I just don’t get how DeRozan is a bad pick @ #9 as a freshman??? There are times he clues in on D… 4 steal a couple games back…For what it’s worth, he’s already waaay better than Carter ever cared to be… Don’t get fooled with this guy–he started his career at Cal real slow then ‘all of a sudden’ was the best palyer in the PAC 10 by the time conference tourney rolled around and into March Madness…

            He’s working in the lab, it’s hard to remember a guy changing this much in season, as I’ve seen with this young guy… Not sure, what will be the turn around moment on that end of the floor BUT I fully remember that MJ absolutely sucked when he first came into the L. LeBron is also in that category (remember I’m talking defense here)… A lot of greats like Barkley, Wilkins, Mullins, weren’t great at that end… I always remember he’s only 21!

            • Statement

              Michael Jordan was an excellent overall player when he came into the league, even from his first year (same age as Demar).

              Lebron was not nearly as good as Jordan, though of course he was better in his first year than Demar Derozan is now (when Lebron was 19 too).

              Not saying that Demar can’t improve, it’s likely that he will, but he is starting from too low a skill base to develop into a really good player IMHO. Of course, I hope I’m wrong.

              • voy

                Please, its bad enough that “he’s already better than carter” was said. Lets not bring Michael into this conversation.

  6. Daniel

    How does Colangelo still have a job? It’s not that 5 years ago he joined this organization stating that his goal at the end of his contract is to be worse off than when he took over. His tenure is a complete and utter failure without any redeeming qualities.

    • C.d.G.

      I’m so sorry to totally agree with you on this point.
      Sad to say, but reality speaks by itself: the following movement was never better than the previous under the Colangelo regime, and the only clear evidence is where we are right now. Many teams are in perpetual “developmental” mode, and many teams never get anywhere!

      P.S. = sorry, folks, I’m not sold – either – on the Raps getting a VERY good player in the next draft. Hope is last to die, but these look more like dreams than hopes!

      • Valit

        I totally agree with you. Truth of the matter is that this roster is flawed to its core and there is absolutely NO indication that The gurus will add good players(more important IF those players would want to play here which everybody assumes).The kids are beaten mentally more than phisically and it will take along time to recoup. For those who advocated tanking, they got their wish. For me, it really, really hurts to see them losing like that. I dont understand for the lights of me how can people yell at trading Calderon and Bargnani which IMO are 2 out of 3 ppl that can actually play in NBA. If these guys bring a losing attitude then I must be blind or something because that’s far the way I see it. Let’s get rid of them and bring young guns with attitude. Is it just me or Mr. Bayless after a stellar NBA career decided that he should be the starting PG and he plays only when he starts and doesnt give a shit otherwise ( Having said that,he should have started yesterday because Calderon was sick). What’s gonna happenned when we are drafting a young PG ( a new messiah)?..How on Earth we got here simply boggles my mind and how on Earth somebody can have faith seeing how this organization is run? We will be known as Toronto Hamsters because 4-5 young players will come and go ona regular basis and mr. Colangelo always will be retooling or rebuilding selling us hope for a btter future.

        PS. I totally love Jack Armstrong but please have some spine and stop participating in all those clownish activities in order to sell some tickets. I’ll go at the game on Friday just because I’m a Raptor fan not becauseI’m enthralled with buying CD’s, shirts, balls or underwear.

  7. Nilanka15

    The most amusing moment of last night’s telecast was the unveiling of the worst draft pick in Philly history as Leo Rautins

  8. Alex Taylor

    I agree with point #1 as far as defensive responsibilty… I mean opposing smalls love to attack Bargnani because he avoids contact, but how are they getting to Bargnani? They’re beating Calderon, they’re beating Derozan straight up, and if there’s any kind of pick or switch happening, nobody seems to know what to do…

    • yertu damkule

      is it something of a chicken-egg thing though? i mean, would there be such a concientious effort to get to the paint if there was a defensive stalwart waiting for them? as an extreme example, are teams continually pushing to get into the post against dwight?

      so, absolutely, the perimeter D MUST be better…but without back-end support, teams will continue to put a focus on getting into the paint; with the rules as they are, offensive players are at a distinct advantage over defensive players in getting to the hoop (elimination of hand-checking, and the turn-the-other-cheek mentality re. moving screens, to name just two).

      oh, and FWIW, i don’t see DD getting beat – straight-up – off the dribble all too often. what usually happens is he gets run off screens (or multiple screens), and either doesn’t fight through them hard enough, or allows himself to trail too much…or doesn’t get himself in proper position initially to prevent his man from using the screens; there are ways – borderline legal – to hold up your check, or at least keep him from using the screen effectively that DD hasn’t figured out yet.

      • Alex Taylor

        I don’t think it’s a chicken or the egg thing… it’s more like you want to make a egg salad sandwich and you’re out of mayo… you just can’t have a weak front line, and then a weak rear line… we’ve got it both… The strangest thing is the ‘strategy’ where our smalls basically jump to the side and give the opposing player the lane on their weak hand… but with no shot blocker, they just take it right in, one raptors big helps, his man is left open and gets the ball and scores… it’s weird

    • yertu damkule

      let’s not go nuts. but he is intriguing…good late 1st round pick at the moment, will likely move up the board as his hype builds, but much will depend on how he (& BYU) does in the tourney. reminds me of jameer nelson.

    • Sbmckay69

      Jimmer is a poor man’s JJ Redick. He will be a solid back up PG But there are 25 guys better than him in the NCAA. Don’t forget that he is a senior and is older than Demar.

  9. 511

    Been looking around to see if I was the only one who was impressed – ok, marginally so, but anyway – by Trey Johnson. Seems I’m definitely in the minority. I liked that he has a tight handle on the ball — something too few Raptors have, to my eyes — and he drained that three quite nicely, early in his first minutes. I doubt he’ll get more than these ten days, but it’d be nice to see someone break out a bit and rise above what’s expected … you know, for a bit of a change around here. I could kind of see how he’s the top scorer in the D league, though. Then again – in the spirit of full disclosure – I also liked what I saw one night watching Will Solomon against the Rockets in a game I was at a few years ago … so … there’s that. (Though I did change my mind the next time I watched ole Will.)

  10. Copywryter

    Last night’s game was notable for Leo Rautins throwing a temper tantrum at halftime because they poked a little fun at him.

    What a humourless douche.

  11. Nilanka15

    My new favourites teams for the remainder of the year, Cleveland, Sacramento and Minnesota. C’mon Kyrie Irving!

  12. sleepz

    Philly should have kept Dalembert this year. They are a true big man away from being a guaranteed playoff team in the East as they have a few pieces and their guard and swings are super athletic and versatile. Liking Hollidays development.

    Not a conspiracy theorist but do you think the Weems back spasms were phantom injuries in order to ensure Demar got his minutes? I thought Weems original injury was a knee (I could be entirely wrong though)? It ended up being his back and kept him out of the line-up for a while…..which is when Demar’s game started to pick up considerably. Earlier in the year when Weems was playing regularly Demar wasn’t as consistent with his efforts or as confident as he is now. Just a thought and probably nothing to it but I don’t think Weems will be starting again on this squad anytime soon.

    When will the Colangelo/Triano regime end? Not sure how to justify bringing these guys back especially considering another year of horrendous defence. Whether they are rebuilding or not the effort and willingness to play defence is vital to success in this league and this regime cannot or will not adhere to this. The culture needs to change and fast, otherwise the utilizing of zones, passive basket protection and enabling of players that don’t rotate, hedge or do what is required on the defensive end of the floor will continue to paralyze this franchise. Change is a must.

  13. sangaman

    The raps were 6-10 with reggie in the lineup snagging 13 rebounds per game…and 6-24 without him.. He had 22 rebounds in the first Philly game…On the first west coast with reggie in the lineup. Kobe described the raps as coming on in waves.

    • Nilanka15

      Reggie’s a band-aid solution, not a long-term solution. Losing games is actually good for us at this point in the “rebuild”.

    • Statement

      Oh I wish that Reggie was still playing, but like Nilanka, I think he’s just a band-aid. More Reggie = less Ed Davis and Amir. Which isn’t a good thing.

      Somehow these guys need to find a way to string some wins together, for the sake of their sanity.

  14. RapsM

    I can’t stand watching this team anymore. Now that their offence is bad, their defence looks even worse(if thats even possible).

  15. Juicy

    So I guess to summarize what everyone has been saying here: All is good. Sure the Raps have hit a snag, but they will work their way out of it. Meanwhile the hope and potential for this team has never been better. The coach definetly knows what he is doing, and our GM has done nothing but made smart and prudent moves. The team has the perfect core with a passionate, hard-nosed centre, a gutsy defensive minded point guard, and a cast of characters who could be starters on most other teams. The perfect group to build around to sure both short-term and long-term success.


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