The Los Angeles Lakers might still be "figuring things out" but Anthony Davis is confident they are in position to make a push for the playoffs.

Malik Beasley scored 25 points and Austin Reaves stepped up with 17 from the bench as the Lakers defeated reigning NBA champions the Golden State Warriors 124-111 on Thursday.

The Lakers did not have it all their own way, having to shrug off the blow of losing D'Angelo Russell to a sprained ankle in the first quarter.

While Russell's initial scans came back clear of major damage, he is set for further assessments on Friday.

But without him, and with LeBron James – 13 points, eight rebounds and nine assists – not finishing with the kind of contributions he is accustomed to, the Lakers nevertheless got the job done in convincing fashion.

The Lakers are onto a 28-32 record for the season, just one win behind the Warriors, who occupy the final play-in spot in the Western Conference.

For Davis, who added 12 points and as many rebounds, the Lakers showed they are a "complete" unit.

“We're still figuring things out on the fly," he told reporters.

"The past two games we've really looked good as a whole. I think we've got a complete team where we're able to make a run."

Beasley top scored, three points ahead of the Warriors' Klay Thompson (22), as the Lakers made it three wins from four since the trade deadline passed.

The Lakers traded Russell Westbrook to the Utah Jazz, with Beasley one of the players sent their way.

While Westbrook never ultimately linked up with the Jazz, instead buying out his contract to join the Los Angeles Clippers, Beasley has settled in quickly at his new team.

"LeBron and AD didn't get going as much as they wanted tonight, but we're deep, I think that's the statement we want to make," Beasley said.

"It can be any player on any given night."

Coach Darvin Ham added: "Just overall great team win. Everybody contributed, everybody had different moments and guys stayed aggressive.

"I feel great about what we've been able to do. It's paying dividends right now and we've just got to continue to get more and more familiar with one another."

LeBron James spoke during the All-Star break of the Los Angeles Lakers' ability to "compete versus anyone in the Western Conference", buoyed by their prior results.

The Lakers won two of their final three games before the break, including a victory on the road against defending champions the Golden State Warriors.

Now, as the season resumes, the two teams meet again in LA, each needing a win.

Even with that minor upturn in form, the Lakers were left 2.5 games outside the play-in places. The Warriors, the ninth seeds, are little better off.

Missing out on the playoffs again is "just not part of my DNA", James added, meaning progress must now be swift.

The Lakers will hope then the "precautionary" decision to remove James from the All-Star Game due to injury is just that.

Although their previous win against the Warriors came without the all-time NBA scoring leader, it was on his return against the New Orleans Pelicans that the Lakers really impressed.

James appeared for the first time alongside new recruit D'Angelo Russell, while Anthony Davis joined the four-time Finals MVP in the starting lineup for only the 24th time this season.

Getting all three men on the floor together consistently will be key to any unlikely success story.

Against a Warriors team still missing Stephen Curry, a show of strength could set up a big second half to the season.

PIVOTAL PERFORMERS

Los Angeles Lakers – D'Angelo Russell

Whether Russell can make the difference for the Lakers is another matter. But the team need that to be the case. His arrival, with Russell Westbrook departing, is the big change most likely to alter the course of the season.

The early signs are at least promising – he has averaged 17.3 points but only 1.7 turnovers through his first three games.

That is a level of efficiency not seen before in Russell's career – including in the half-season he spent with the Warriors – but should be enough to keep James happy, which is more than can be said for Westbrook, whose 3.5 turnovers per game were actually down on his career average.

Golden State Warriors – Jordan Poole

While Curry remains out, the Warriors will have to rely on Poole to provide their scoring threat.

More than half of his 35 starts this year (20) have come when Curry has been out of the lineup, in which games Poole has averaged 27.6 points per game.

It figures that Poole should be more influential when team-mates do not have Curry to instead look to, with the 23-year-old attempting 10.1 threes per game without the superstar alongside him.

Taking the ball and the shots counts for little, however, if Poole cannot get the Warriors enough wins to stay competitive. They are 9-11 this year when Poole starts but Curry does not.

KEY BATTLE – Lakers at the crunch?

Not helped by having a key man missing, the Warriors have repeatedly been frustrated by the way they have ended games of late.

The previous Lakers game was the source of some frustration as Golden State appeared set to recover from a tough third quarter before another wobble in the fourth.

In fact, across their past eight games that have been late and close – within four points in the last two minutes of the final quarter – the Warriors have been outscored in those scenarios in six.

If the Lakers can stick with the Warriors, they look the better bet to come through late on.

HEAD TO HEAD

The teams have split the series so far this year, with the Warriors' win on opening night followed by that home defeat. All time, the Lakers have a 259-173 lead over the Warriors in the regular season.

Los Angeles Lakers head coach Darvin Ham says the team's goal is to reach the playoffs rather than falling into a play-in situation as they look to revive their season after the All-Star break.

The Lakers are currently 13th in the Western Conference with a 27-32 record ahead of their resumption against the Golden State Warriors on Thursday.

Despite the Lakers' lowly rank in the west, they are only 2.0 games behind the Oklahoma City Thunder as the 10th seed, which earns a play-in berth.

But LA are also only 3.5 games behind the sixth-placed Dallas Mavericks, for the final of the guaranteed playoffs spots, offering hope for a side which drastically changed its roster prior to the break.

Russell Westbrook has departed, while they acquired D'Angelo Russell, Malik Beasley and Jarred Vanderbilt to bolster their squad.

The Lakers also have LeBron James and Anthony Davis fit again and ready to team up as they look for a charge, with the four-time NBA MVP earlier this week labelling their final 23 regular-season games as "the most important" games of his career.

"The goal is for us to come out and try to be the best version of ourselves each game, but definitely, if we can go and secure a spot, that is our goal right there," Ham told reporters.

"If we fall into a play-in situation, so be it. But our number one goal is to go secure a spot, not just throw games off here or there and just wish for a play-in. We want to go secure a spot."

The Lakers face two of their main rivals for those final Western Conference playoffs spots in their next two games, with the Warriors sitting ninth with a 29-29 record but they will be without star Stephen Curry to injury.

The Mavericks, who acquired Kyrie Irving prior to the Trade Deadline, are next on Sunday after Golden State.

"I mean we have to help ourselves first and foremost, and we only do that by winning games," Ham said.

"We've already put ourselves behind the eight ball enough, we don't want to get into a further situation where we're depending on teams in front of us to lose games and all the while we're dropping games.

"Winning is the focus. It's the only way we can help ourselves and take care of what we can control."

All-Star Davis said the Lakers needed to treat every remaining game as a "must-win" and play them like Game 7 of a series.

LeBron James has downplayed the severity of the hand injury that forced him out of the second half of Sunday's All-Star Game in Salt Lake City.

James' Team LeBron lost 184-175 to Team Giannis, with the Los Angeles Lakers superstar ruled out at half-time after playing 14 minutes where he scored 13 points with four assists.

The four-time NBA MVP appeared to injure his right hand which was caught in the rim attempting to block Pascal Siakam's lay-up attempt in the second quarter.

"Coach [Michael] Malone is a defensive minded coach," James told reporters. "I had him in my early days at Cleveland. I told him I'd get one stop for him and I tried one little chase-down block and got my finger caught in the rim.

"But I'll be fine, I'll be fine. I don’t think it's too much to worry about but for precautionary reasons I had to just take the rest of the night off."

James' availability will be critical to the Lakers' hopes of a run into the playoffs, currently sitting 13th in the Western Conference with a 27-32 record.

The 38-year-old, who missed three games last week due to an ankle injury, is averaging 30.0 points, 8.4 rebounds and 7.0 assists for the Lakers this season.

The Lakers return to action after the All-Star break on Thursday against the reigning champions, Golden State Warriors who are ninth in the west at 29-29.

Jayson Tatum scored an All-Star game record 55 points as Team Giannis defeated Team LeBron 184-175 in Sunday's game in Salt Lake City.

Tatum won the Kobe Bryant All-Star MVP for the contest, where the first team to 182 points won with an untimed fourth quarter.

The Boston Celtics small forward shot 22-of-31 from the field along with 10-of-18 from beyond the arc, with 10 rebounds and six assists from 35 minutes. Tatum's 55 points exceeded Anthony Davis' previous All-Star record of 52 from 2017.

Tatum led the way in the free-scoring contest where defense was at a minimum, with Cleveland Cavaliers guard Donovan Mitchell adding 40 points on 15-of-25 shooting from the field with 10 assists on his return to Utah.

Damian Lillard contributed 26 points off the bench, making eight-of-20 from three-point range, while captain Giannis Antetokounmpo left the court after a dunk in the first minute with an ongoing wrist issue.

Opposition captain LeBron James exited the game at half-time due to a hand contusion sustained in a second-quarter dunk, finishing with 13 points and four assists across 14 minutes.

Celtics guard Jaylen Brown top scored for Team LeBron off the bench with 35 points along with 14 rebounds and five assists.

Brown and Tatum's combined 90 points, albeit on opposition sides, was the most ever by a pair of teammates in an All-Star Game.

Joel Embiid and Kyrie Irving both scored 32 points for Team LeBron, while the latter had a game-high 15 assists.

LeBron James has not missed the playoffs in consecutive years since the first two seasons of an NBA career that’s spanned two decades.

He is intent on not letting that happen again, telling reporters before his 19th consecutive All-Star Game of his urgency to right the ship.

The Lakers currently sit 13th out of 15 Western Conference teams with a record of 27-32, 3.5 games behind the sixth-seeded Dallas Mavericks, and two games out of the 10th seed as the Play-In Tournament begins to look like a more realistic path to the postseason.

"I don't want to see myself not being part of the postseason for two years straight," James said. "It’s just not part of my DNA."

With fellow perennial All-Star Anthony Davis now back healthy and trade-deadline additions of guard D’Angelo Russell, shooting specialist Malik Beasley and frontcourt players Jarred Vanderbilt and Mo Bamba, James said he feels a healthier and revamped Lakers squad will be a formidable opponent for any team should they reach the postseason.

"I've always been confident in any club that I’ve been on [that] once we got to the playoffs we could compete with anyone," he said. "I feel no different now.

"With the roster the way we're shaped up now, if we can finish off this regular season on the right foot, then we can compete versus anyone in the Western Conference, if not the whole league."

James stopped short of guaranteeing a playoff berth, though, as he acknowledged the competitiveness of a conference where only two teams – San Antonio and Houston – have no realistic chance of advancing.

"It’s 23 of the most important games of my career, for a regular season," James said of the Lakers’ remaining schedule. "It’s the type of mindset I have, and I hope the guys will have, coming off the break.

"It’s going to take a lot of commitment, which is okay, that’s what it should be about. [But] if we can punch our ticket, we can compete versus anyone."

Team captains LeBron James and Giannis Antetokounmpo both exited the All-Star Game in Utah on Sunday due to injuries.

Los Angeles Lakers forward James appeared to hurt his hand by hitting it on the rim during a dunk with 6:08 remaining in the second quarter and was ruled out for the second half.

James finished the game with 13 points on 54.5 per cent field goal shooting with four assists in 14 minutes.

The four-time NBA MVP's exit meant both Team LeBron and Team Giannis would be without their captains for the second half.

Milwaukee Bucks forward Antetokounmpo withdrew from the All-Star Game early with a pre-existing wrist injury, scoring two points before stepping out inside a minute.

James, who missed three games last week due to an ankle injury, is averaging 30.0 points, 8.4 rebounds and 7.0 assists for the Lakers this season.

Antetokounmpo is averaging 31.8 points, 12.2 rebounds and 5.4 assists for the Bucks, who are second in the Eastern Conference with a 41-17 record.

LeBron James likes what the new-look Los Angeles Lakers have "brewing" following some shrewd business before last week's trade deadline.

Five players made their home debuts for the Lakers in a 120-102 victory over the New Orleans Pelicans on Wednesday.

D'Angelo Russell, Malik Beasley and Jarred Vanderbilt were all in the starting line-up as the rebuilding Lakers moved to 27-32, sitting 13th in the Western Conference.

James made his return from injury after seeing Russell Westbrook, Juan Toscano-Anderson, Damian Jones, Patrick Beverley and Thomas Bryant move on.

The Lakers superstar, who scored 21 points after recovering from foot soreness, feels there is a nice blend to the roster after so many changes.

He said: "I think we're going to continue to build off tonight," said James. "I think our skill sets all kind of fit each other."

James expressed his gratitude to the contribution the players who departed made but is happy with the new faces that have arrived.

"First of all, I shout out and salute the guys that left," James said. "Russ, Pat, JTA, DJ and Thomas. Those five guys. We all started the season together and tried to work to make some things happen and be the best that we could be out on the floor.

"So I salute those guys and their commitment to us trying to be as good as we could be on the floor. And right now, I mean, I like the guys that we have coming in. It's going to take some time for us to get to know one another, but I know that they play the game at a high level."

James added heading into the All-Star break: "We got a lot of work to do still. And every game is going to be tough for us, especially going down the stretch, knowing the type of push that we need to make.

"I want the guys to enjoy the break but don't get 100 per cent detached because we want to come back and try to keep this thing going.

"I feel really good about what we have brewing, but it's going to take a lot of commitment from us going down the stretch so I'm looking forward to that."
 

Mikal Bridges scored a career-high 45 points in his third game for the Brooklyn Nets since his trade for Kevin Durant as they won 116-105 over the Miami Heat on Wednesday.

The Nets had dropped four of their past five games since trading Kyrie Irving to the Dallas Mavericks, with the injured Durant following him out the exit door last week.

Bridges shot 17-of-24 from the field, making four-of-six from beyond the arc with eight rebounds and five assists.

The Nets became the first team in NBA history to have four players score 45 points or more in a single game in one season.

Cameron Johnson, who also joined the Nets from the Phoenix Suns alongside Bridges, added 18 points with three assists.

The Nets had trailed 56-52 at the main break, but Bridges broke the game open with 15 straight points.

Bridges finished the game with 17 points in the fourth quarter, comfortably eclipsing his previous career-best return of 34 points.

Bam Adebayo had 24 points with 13 rebounds and six assists for the Heat, while Max Strus scored 18 points as the Heat fell to 32-27.

The win lifted the Nets to 34-24, although Ben Simmons' woes continued with only two points, four rebounds and assists in 20 minutes.

Embiid brings up milestone amid double-double

Joel Embiid brought up his 10,000th career as he recorded a double-double as the Philadelphia 76ers won their fourth straight in a 118-112 victory over the Cleveland Cavaliers.

Embiid finished with 29 points with 14 rebounds and five assists, while James Harden also managed a double-double with 19 points and 12 assists. Harden assisted and scored in 27 of 38 first-quarter points.

The 76ers led 63-38 at half-time, although Donovan Mitchell fought hard for the Cavaliers, scoring 25 second-half points, before finishing with 33.

LeBron returns as Lakers win

LeBron James scored 21 points on his return after three games out with a foot injury as the Los Angeles Lakers won 120-102 over the New Orleans Pelicans.

Anthony Davis scored a game-high 28 points with 10 rebounds and five assists as the Lakers improved to 27-32 to boost their playoff hopes, while D'Angelo Russell added 21 points. The Lakers never trailed after a 38-point opening quarter.

Brandon Ingram top scored for the Pelicans, still missing Zion Williamson, with 25 points, while Jonas Valanciunas had 12 points with 11 rebounds.

LeBron James' achievement has been hailed as "absolutely incredible" by Tiger Woods, who also praised Tom Brady's legendary playing career.

James last week became the all-time points leader in NBA history, with the Los Angeles Lakers star overtaking Kareem Abdul-Jabbar's long-standing record.

The 38-year-old is a four-time NBA champion, four-time NBA Finals MVP and four-time league MVP.

Ahead of his return to the PGA Tour at the Genesis Invitational, Woods was asked for his thoughts on James' feat, and suggested Sam Snead and himself would be golf's equivalent to the 19-time NBA All-Star.

"What he accomplished is absolutely incredible," Woods told reporters.

"Just the durability, the consistency and the longevity. I grew up watching Kareem, he was the Cap [Captain], that's all I remember – the showtime Lakers, watching Cap.

"That record, nobody ever thought it would be broken, but also the amount of minutes he's playing, nobody's ever done it at that age and the way he's done it, being able to play all five positions. That's never been done at this level for this long.

"As far as our equivalent to that... I don't know, maybe you look at me and Sam, at 82 [PGA Tour wins each, a joint-record]. It takes a career to get to those numbers, that's probably best how you look at it."

While James is set to play on, a star of another sport – Brady – has retired.

NFL great Brady, who had a short-lived retirement in 2022, called time on his playing days "for good" earlier in February, ending a 23-year career at the highest level.

The quarterback is one of the most successful players of all time, with seven Super Bowl rings to his name, and has the most career wins of any QB.

Aaron Rodgers might also be considering retirement, and Woods is astounded at the pair's longevity, especially when it comes to 45-year-old Brady.

"There was a touch and go whether I'd be back after my back fusion," said Woods when asked about the mindset of the duo when it comes to retirement. 

"I didn't know if I was going to be able to walk again, I came back and had a nice little run. The same again with this leg. I didn't know if I was going to be able to play again and I played three majors last year.

"When you get a little bit older and a little more banged up, you’re not as invincible as you once were – that's just the reality of all of us ageing. Those are contact sports, I don't know how they've played [so long].

"Tom, playing as long as he did and the level he played at, it was phenomenal. We just have to look at him as an outlier, as how great that was.

"I remember as a kid growing up watching John Elway speak and just crying as he said 'I can do it but my body won't allow me to anymore'. He won the last two Super Bowls but he just could not physically do it anymore.

"I've got to that point a few times where you think of [retirement]. My sport, there's no contact, I don't have 300lb guys falling on me. It's just a matter of shooting a low score. We have the ability to pick and choose, play a little bit longer.

"We've seen my hero – Arnold Palmer – play in 50 straight Masters. Fifty straight. I'm not even 50 years old yet! You look at Gary Player, who played in 51 Masters. We're different sports."

Kyrie Irving scored 26 of his 36 points in the fourth quarter but it was not enough as the fast-finishing Dallas Mavericks lost 124-121 to the Minnesota Timberwolves on Monday.

Irving and Luka Doncic (33 points) combined for 69 points for the Mavs, who trailed 100-82 at three-quarter time and rallied from a 26-point deficit.

The Mavs point guard, however, lost the ball to Taurean Prince with an errant pass on the final possession, denying Dallas getting a shot away to tie the game after a disrupted play where he exchanged passes with Doncic.

Irving's 26-point fourth quarter was the highest scoring quarter of his career, finishing the game on 15-of-23 shooting with four-of-nine from beyond the arc, along with five rebounds and six assists.

Doncic had 12 rebounds and six assists with his 33 points, while Christian Wood added 24 points off the bench.

For the triumphant Timberwolves, Anthony Edwards scored a team-high 32 points with five rebounds, while Rudy Gobert had 21 points and 14 rebounds.

The defeat means the Mavs have lost both games Doncic and Irving have played together since the latter's trade from the Brooklyn Nets last week.

Lillard leads long-range Blazers blitz over Lakers

Damien Lillard scored 40 points as the Portland Trail Blazers hit 23 three-pointers in a 127-115 win over the Los Angeles Lakers, who were missing LeBron James for the third straight game with a sore left ankle.

The Blazers' 23 triples were a season-best, while they broke their first-half franchise record with 17 three-pointers. Lillard led the way from range, making eight-of-14 three-point attempts.

Malik Beasley came off the bench to top score for the Lakers with 22 points, including six three-pointers, while Anthony Davis scored 19 points with 20 rebounds and three blocks.

Mitchell stars as Spurs lose 13th straight

Donovan Mitchell scored 41 points with five three-pointers as the Cleveland Cavaliers condemned the San Antonio Spurs to a joint franchise record 13th straight defeat.

The Cavs won 117-109 led by Mitchell with Jarrett Allen adding 17 points, 11 rebounds and three blocks, securing their seventh successive victory to improve their record to 38-22.

The loss leaves San Antonio with a 14-44 record, with their run of defeats marking their worst since the 1988-89 season.

The Los Angeles Lakers will be without LeBron James yet again when they take on the Portland Trail Blazers on Monday.

James, 38, will make it three missed games in a row since breaking the all-time scoring record against the Oklahoma City Thunder on Tuesday, officially listed out with an ankle injury.

It may be a case of the Lakers trying to give their star an extended rest leading into the All-Star break in the hope he will come out the other side refreshed and ready to attack the home stretch, having averaged over 30 points per game in the 30 games he has played since the beginning of December.

But unfortunately for Los Angeles, they are running out of wiggle room.

With a 26-31 record, the Lakers are 13th out of 15 teams in the Western Conference, and although they sit only four games behind the sixth-seeded Los Angeles Clippers, there are a host of competitive teams in the play-in race with the same goal.

The Lakers are 5-8 in the 13 games James has missed this season, including just two wins from their past eight attempts.

Making matters even more precarious is the fact that fellow star Anthony Davis is also listed as day-to-day, and there has been no confirmation that he will suit up either, although it is likely the Lakers would have ruled him out at the same time as James if they were going to do so.

It will be another chance for the Lakers' new additions to prove their worth, with D'Angelo Russell and Jarred Vanderbilt immediately impressing after arriving in the Russell Westbrook trade, while Malik Beasley could also prove himself to be a valuable shooter off the bench in a team lacking much of a threat from outside.

The Trail Blazers will also be undermanned as their top wing, Jerami Grant, has been ruled out with a concussion.

LeBron James was one of a number of NFL fans upset by a decisive holding call in the fourth quarter of Super Bowl LVII, but James Bradberry, the man penalised, accepted it was the right decision.

Bradberry's Philadelphia Eagles agonisingly lost 38-35 to the Kansas City Chiefs in Glendale, Arizona on Sunday.

The Eagles had led by 10 points at half-time, before Patrick Mahomes led the Chiefs' rally to tie the game going into the closing stages.

But the prospect of a dramatic finish in keeping with the rest of a thrilling game was taken away by the penalty against Bradberry for holding JuJu Smith-Schuster.

That soft call allowed Mahomes to run down the clock before Harrison Butker came out to kick a game-winning field goal.

The finale upset many watching at home, including NBA great James, who posted on Twitter: "Sorry but I don’t like that call! Not for the Super Bowl man!

"His hand on his back had no effect on his route! This game was too damn good for that call to dictate the outcome at the end. Damn!

"By the way I have no horse in the race. Just my professional opinion."

However, Bradberry was asked about the incident in the locker room afterwards and did not share the frustrations of others.

"It was a holding," the cornerback said. "I tugged his jersey. I was hoping they would let it slide."

LeBron James will miss his second consecutive game with soreness in his left ankle.

James became the NBA's all-time leading points scorer this week, breaking the record against the Oklahoma City Thunder on Tuesday.

Yet the 38-year-old sat out Thursday's loss to the Milwaukee Bucks and will not feature on Saturday against the Golden State Warriors.

It marks the 13th missed game this season for James, though it appears to be a primarily precautionary move.

Medical imaging on the affected area has not shown any significant damage other than general wear and tear, according to Lakers coach Darvin Ham.

"We're grateful that things came back clean and good," Lakers vice president of basketball operations and general manager Rob Pelinka said on a conference call on Saturday.

The Lakers are expected to have newcomers D'Angelo Russell, Jarred Vanderbilt, Malik Beasley and Davon Reed available to face the Warriors.

Mo Bamba, who was also acquired at the deadline, will finish serving his four-game suspension stemming from an altercation in a February 3 game between the Orlando Magic and the Minnesota Timberwolves.

James ranks seventh in the league in scoring (30.2 points per game) and his absence leaves a huge void for Los Angeles, who are 13th in the Western Conference and facing an uphill climb to make the playoffs.

Anthony Davis insisted his reluctance to celebrate LeBron James' NBA scoring record was related to the state of Tuesday's game rather than any issue between the two Los Angeles Lakers superstars.

James broke Kareem Abdul-Jabbar's long-time record against the Oklahoma City Thunder, but Davis did not look to join his Lakers team-mates in saluting the new scoring king.

Fan footage posted on social media showed Davis sat on the bench, with his view of the court obscured by standing Lakers, as James made his historic fadeaway jumper.

That reaction prompted puzzlement from those on the outside of the organisation, but Davis provided an explanation on Thursday.

As he pointed out, the Lakers trailed the Thunder at the time of James' history-making bucket, which saw the game paused, and LA were unable to rally later in the 133-130 defeat.

Speaking after another home loss against the Milwaukee Bucks, seeing the Lakers fall to 25-31 in 13th place in the West, Davis appeared irked by mention of the topic as he said: "You all know mine and Bron's relationship. It's nothing.

"It's about the game. We're losing to the Oklahoma City Thunder, a game we needed. And I was p***ed off that we were losing. It's that simple.

"It's nothing that has to do with Bron. He knows that.

"Everybody else is outside looking in, it's their opinion. But I was p***ed off that we were losing the game."

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