Kevin Love joked Ja Morant almost ended his career with a spectacular failed slam dunk attempt in the Cleveland Cavaliers' 114-107 NBA win over the Memphis Grizzlies on Friday.

Morant sprung high into the air and made contact with Love's head as he just about leaped over him, with both players ending up on the deck after the ball struck the rim.

Love later tweeted: "Ja almost ended my professional career with this dunk...that kid is something special."

The Cavaliers forward added: "Boy, I was so glad he missed that dunk.

"I looked back, I helped him up. That was my tip of the hat to him. That kid, he's really special and you gotta give credit where credit is due. He's going to continue to get better."

Morant also took his failed attempt to add two points in good spirits.

"He was in the way," he quipped. "You don't get any cool points if you miss it.

"I probably cocked it back too much because it hit the rim."

Jordan Clarkson top scored with 33 points in a second successive victory for Cleveland (8-21).

Joel Embiid said the Philadelphia 76ers are "playing scared" after suffering a second consecutive home loss in the NBA.

Championship hopefuls the 76ers had opened the season with a flawless 14-0 record at Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia.

But the 76ers (20-10) have dropped back-to-back games on home court, upstaged 117-98 by the Dallas Mavericks on Friday following Wednesday's defeat to the Miami Heat.

The 76ers – who have lost three straight games overall – have looked uncomfortable and a shadow of the team attempting to reach the NBA Finals.

All-Star Embiid, who led the 76ers with 33 points and 17 rebounds, told reporters: "I feel like, especially tonight, we were playing scared. Basketball is easy. You just shoot it, pass it, move it. If you don't got a shot just pass it.

"I felt like tonight we had a few open looks, [and] you just got to shoot it. But then again, it's also a balance, that's what I've been dealing with. You got a lot of people telling you to be aggressive and all that, and obviously you don't want to be selfish, but at the end of the day if you got to make something happen, you got to, especially if you feel like you have a look.

"In those situations if you're wide open, or if you're open, just shoot it. We're going to get an offensive rebound or we're going to make something happen."

Like they did against the Heat midweek, the 76ers struggled against zone defence as Philadelphia fell to sixth in the Eastern Conference standings.

"I think that the influence that our inability lately, to, like, be put on our back heels against the zone has crept into our defense, our psyche, our spirit," head coach Brown said. "And I can't stand it.

"This is not who we are. It's not who we are. ... I love coaching these guys, because I respect them. And I feel like our competitive spirit has taken a dent because of our inability to score, and I think that any time you get into a mood swing that affects your defense because your offense is doing something, it needs to be addressed."

Brown added: "I haven't seen that in this group ... how long has it been since the Brooklyn game? Six days? Before that, we were all feeling pretty good ... the past six days, if that's what it is, the past three games we have laid eggs. We have not played with a competitive drive that reflects this team. It's not, at all, how I see the world."

Kristaps Porzingis showed there is more to the Dallas Mavericks than just Luka Doncic after inspiring a 117-98 win over the slumping Philadelphia 76ers in the NBA.

Without injured star guard Doncic, Porzingis posted 22 points and a career-high 18 rebounds for the Mavericks on Friday.

Tim Hardaway Jr. added 27 points of his own as the Mavericks improved to 11-2 on the road, despite Doncic's absence due to a right ankle sprain.

For the 76ers, it was their second straight defeat on home court, having opened the season 14-0 at Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia.

Joel Embiid had 33 points and 17 rebounds for the 76ers, who lost their consecutive game overall, and Ben Simmons (12 points) and Josh Richardson (10) were the only other players with double-digit points.

Defending champions the Toronto Raptors edged the Washington Wizards 122-118, despite an injury-riddled line-up.

The Raptors were without leading scorer Pascal Siakam (groin), Marc Gasol (hamstring) and Norman Powell (shoulder) but Kyle Lowry's 26 points and Serge Ibaka's 23 and 10 rebounds lifted Toronto.

 

Lillard and McCollum star

Damian Lillard put up 36 points and CJ McCollum contributed 31 of his own as the Portland Trail Blazers topped the Orlando Magic 118-103. It was Portland's third straight win – a season-high.

Bobby Portis scored 30 points in the New York Knicks' 129-114 defeat away to the Miami Heat.

The Oklahoma City Thunder defeated the Phoenix Suns 126-108 thanks to Shai Gilgeous-Alexander's 32 points.

 

Tough night for Kemba

While the Boston Celtics saw off the Detroit Pistons 114-93, Kemba Walker struggled. The Celtics guard missed all six shots from the floor, while he was also 0 of three for three-pointers. Walker finished with two points and 11 assists in 30 minutes.

 

Morant with the best missed dunk of all time

Ja Morant almost destroyed Kevin Love with a devastating dunk that saw the Memphis Grizzlies rookie attempt to jump over the Cleveland Cavaliers veteran.

 

Friday's results

Toronto Raptors 122-118 Washington Wizards
Boston Celtics 114-93 Detroit Pistons
Cleveland Cavaliers 114-107 Memphis Grizzlies
Indiana Pacers 119-105 Sacramento Kings
Denver Nuggets 109-100 Minnesota Timberwolves
Oklahoma City Thunder 126-108 Phoenix Suns
Miami Heat 129-114 New York Knicks
Dallas Mavericks 117-98 Philadelphia 76ers
Portland Trail Blazers 118-103 Orlando Magic
Golden State Warriors 106-102 New Orleans Pelicans

 

Clippers at Spurs

After going down to the Houston Rockets, the Los Angeles Clippers are away to the San Antonio Spurs on Saturday. The Clippers have lost two of their last three games, while the Spurs are coming off two wins in three outings.

Anthony Davis and LeBron James tipped their hats to Giannis Antetokounmpo after the Milwaukee Bucks defeated the Los Angeles Lakers on Thursday.

The two teams went into the game at Fiserv Forum with NBA-leading 24-4 records and it was the Bucks who emerged triumphant, claiming a 111-104 victory.

Reigning MVP Antetokounmpo had 34 points and 11 rebounds and made a career-best five three-pointers in a commanding display.

Davis, who sat out the defeat to the Indiana Pacers on Tuesday with an ankle sprain, played the entire second half and finished with a game-high 36 points.

Asked for his thoughts on Antetokounmpo's display, James simply gestured by tipping an imaginary hat, while Davis suggested there was little more the Lakers could have done to stop him.

"We tip our hats to him, man. I think we executed our game plan as far as him driving," said Davis.

"He did a good job of knocking down threes, he did a good job of finding guys and they made shots for him.

"You've got to tip your hat to him, he made five of them and they were all tough looks. Two were highly contested at the end of the shot clock, one was wide open, and I think the other two were dribble-up threes from the wing."

On his ankle injury, Davis added: "I just tried to play through it, I still felt it a little bit. I tried to keep going, battle through it a little bit and help my team win."

The Lakers trailed by 18 points at half-time and were unable to avoid succumbing to successive defeats for the first time this season at the end of a five-game road trip, despite James claiming a triple-double of 21 points, 12 rebounds and 11 assists.

"We continue to build chemistry, we continue to build camaraderie," James said.

"Pretty much every time anyone does anything, we pretty much do it together on the road. Just kind of have that bunker mentality, that brotherhood when we hit the road."

Russell Westbrook led the way as the Houston Rockets downed Kawhi Leonardo's Los Angeles Clippers 122-117 in the NBA on Thursday.

Westbrook posted 40 points and 10 rebounds to inspire the Rockets' win in Los Angeles, where Houston rallied.

The Rockets (19-9) trailed by 15 points at half-time but used a 36-point third quarter to emerge triumphant at Staples Center.

James Harden contributed 28 points and 10 assists – the Rockets star breaking Calvin Murphy's franchise assist record in the process.

Paul George's 34 points and Leonard's 25 and nine rebounds were not enough for the Clippers (21-9) on home court.

Meanwhile, the Milwaukee Bucks defeated the Los Angeles Lakers 111-104 in their highly anticipated showdown.

Giannis Antetokounmpo's 34 points and 11 rebounds led the Bucks to the NBA's best record at 25-4 in Milwaukee.

LeBron James recorded a triple-double of 21 points, 12 rebounds and 11 assists, while Anthony Davis had 36 points and 10 rebounds for the Lakers (24-4).

 

Dinwiddie has career night

Spencer Dinwiddie posted a career-high 41 points but not even that could stop the Brooklyn Nets from losing 118-105 to the San Antonio Spurs. LaMarcus Aldridge put up 20 points and 10 rebounds for the Spurs.

Donovan Mitchell's 30 points led the Utah Jazz past the Atlanta Hawks 111-106. Trae Young scored 30 of his own for the Hawks.

 

Lakers get nothing from bench

Starters James, Davis, Danny Green and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope really carried the Lakers in Milwaukee. They were the only players to reach double-digit points – the team's bench only contributing four points via Dwight Howard (2) and Rajon Rondo (2).

 

Giannis from distance!

Antetokounmpo had a career-high five-pointers, including this gem from the beyond the arc against the Lakers.

 

Thursday's results

Utah Jazz 111-106 Atlanta Hawks
Milwaukee Bucks 111-104 Los Angeles Lakers
San Antonio Spurs 118-105 Brooklyn Nets
Los Angeles Clippers 122-117 Houston Rockets

 

Mavs at 76ers

After losing for the first time at home this season, the Philadelphia 76ers have the chance to bounce back against the Dallas Mavericks on Friday.

Giannis Antetokounmpo said he is not supposed to be up against LeBron James and Anthony Davis as the Milwaukee Bucks star remained grounded following Thursday's win over the Los Angeles Lakers.

The Bucks claimed the best record in the NBA after reigning MVP Antetokounmpo inspired a 111-104 victory in the blockbuster showdown.

All eyes were on Milwaukee for the highly anticipated clash as Eastern Conference leaders the Bucks and the Western Conference-leading Lakers shared 24-4 records.

Antetokounmpo upstaged James and Davis with his 34 points and 11 rebound, the Bucks moving top of the overall NBA standings.

"I think the most important thing is to try to stay humble. When you win MVP and you win 60 games, it's hard," Antetokounmpo said afterwards.

"You feel like, 'OK, what else?' But at the end of the day, I realise and my family realises that I'm not supposed to be here.

"I wasn't the number one pick. [Anthony Davis] was. LeBron [James] was. I wasn't supposed to be here.

"I'm not supposed to go against these two beasts, so I'm just happy that I'm here and happy that I'm going through the process, and I always want to be better, do better for my team, and that's what gives me joy."

Antetokounmpo also had a career-high five three-pointers against the Lakers, on eight attempts from beyond the arc.

"I'm going to keep shooting. It doesn't matter for me if I made one, two or five, I just want to be better," Antetokounmpo said. "And I want to keep getting better and keep working on my game, and it's going to be some nights that I'm going to make zero and it'll be nights I'll make five, but I've got to keep shooting because that's what my team wants me to do."

Bucks head coach Mike Budenholzer added: "I think a lot of players keep working, keep getting better, and it's part of our league, part of being a professional.

"But what Giannis does in the summer, the amount of time he puts in before practices, after practices, taking care of his body -- but I think everybody, as special as he was last year, I think even opponents and his peers, I think, see and know that he can get better. He's doing it. He's putting the time and effort in, and we just feel fortunate he's ours and excited about him and our future."

Giannis Antetokounmpo's double-double led the Milwaukee Bucks past the Los Angeles Lakers 111-104 and to the NBA's best record.

All eyes were on Milwaukee for Thursday's highly anticipated showdown as Eastern Conference leaders the Bucks and the Western Conference-leading Lakers shared 24-4 records.

The blockbuster encounter also pitted reigning MVP Antetokounmpo against Lakers superstar LeBron James.

And the Bucks secured the league's best record thanks to Antetokounmpo, and his 34 points and 11 rebounds.

Antetokounmpo also had a career-high five three-pointers for the Bucks, who used a 42-29 second quarter to move clear of the Lakers.

James finished with a triple-double of 21 points, 12 rebounds and 11 assists but it was not enough for the visiting Lakers.

Lakers team-mate Anthony Davis put up 36 points and 10 rebounds after returning from a one-game absence due to an ankle injury.

 

Star trio Kobe Bryant, Tim Duncan and Kevin Garnett are among the nominees for the 2020 Basketball Hall of Fame.

Los Angeles Lakers great Bryant, San Antonio Spurs icon Duncan and Boston Celtics favourite Garnett headline the 2020 class of potential inductees.

Former Miami Heat star Chris Bosh and Shawn Marion are also on the list of 50 people nominated for the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame.

The finalists will be announced during the All-Star Weekend in Chicago in February, with the inductees unveiled in April.

Regarded as arguably the Lakers' greatest ever player, prolific scorer Bryant spent his entire 20-year career with the storied Los Angeles franchise.

An 18-time All-Star, Bryant – who retired in 2016 – won five NBA championships and two Finals MVP awards, while he was crowned the league's MVP in 2008.

Like Bryant, Duncan was also a one-team player after spending his career with the Spurs, where he claimed five NBA rings during his 19 seasons before retiring in 2016.

Former Spurs big man Duncan was also a three-time Finals MVP, two-time league MVP and 15-time All-Star.

Garnett helped the Celtics to NBA glory in 2008 after being crowned the 2004 MVP during his time with the Minnesota Timberwolves, while Bosh ended his career with two championships and 11 All-Star appearances.

Los Angeles Lakers star Anthony Davis will return from a one-game absence to face the Milwaukee Bucks in Thursday's NBA blockbuster showdown.

Davis sat out Tuesday's defeat to the Indiana Pacers due to a mild ankle sprain, leaving his availability for the Bucks clash in question.

However, the All-Star has overcome that ankle issue as the Western Conference-leading Lakers and Eastern Conference pacesetters the Bucks square off with matching 24-4 records.

Since teaming up with LeBron James at the Lakers, Davis is averaging 27.4 points, 9.3 rebounds and 3.3 assists per game.

 

Memphis center James Wiseman, the suspended potential number one overall pick, has declared for the 2020 NBA Draft.

The 18-year-old is one of the top prospects in the class and announced on Thursday he has withdrawn from the University of Memphis.

Wiseman has played just three college games, having been banned until January 12 after the NCAA discovered the player's mother received $11,500 from Penny Hardaway, who later became Memphis head coach.

The Tigers star averaged 19.7 points, 10.7 rebounds and 3.0 blocks in 23.0 minutes per game.

Freshman Wiseman announced his decision on Instagram, thanking Memphis as he begins preparation for "the next chapter of my life".

"Today, I formally withdrew from the University of Memphis, and I will be preparing for the next chapter of my life," he wrote. "Ever since I was a little kid, it's been a dream of mine to play in the NBA.

"Throughout this process, I've asked God to ordain my steps and lead me in the right direction. God is my lord and salvation, and throughout this process, he has comforted me.

"This was not how I expected my freshman season to be, but I'm thankful for everyone who has supported my family and me throughout this process.

"I want to thank the coaches and staff for all their support and my team-mates for pushing me every day at practice. I feel blessed for the opportunity to be a Tiger and for having the honour to play with these special group of guys.

"I can't wait to see what they accomplish this season. The friends and fans of Tiger Nation will always hold a place in my heart. #GoTigersGo"

Miami Heat coach Erik Spoelstra subjected his players to a video nasty before they went out and halted the Philadelphia 76ers' perfect home record.

A painful loss to the Memphis Grizzlies on Monday left the Heat under pressure going into their clash with a team who were 14-0 at Wells Fargo Center.

Spoelstra made his players watch in forensic detail their shortcomings in the Grizzlies game, to show exactly where he wanted to see improvements.

And even if it made for tough viewing, the session paid off as the Heat snatched a 108-104 victory over their Eastern Conference rivals.

Kendrick Nunn poured in 26 points and Bam Adebayo scored 23 for the Heat, for whom the relief was immense.

Spoelstra said after Wednesday night's win: "Everybody was just really disappointed, frustrated, if not angry yesterday with our performance in Memphis.

"All you can do is get to work. So we had a long film session going through the painful autopsy of our lack of winning plays that we made in the Memphis game. I thought we made a lot more of them tonight."

Young guns Nunn, Tyler Herro and Duncan Robinson were under pressure to perform after their displays against Memphis were picked over.

"They took a beating yesterday in the film session," Spoelstra said, according to the Miami Herald. "They took it on the chin with an approach to get better and they produced for this basketball team in that locker room.

"And they got recognised for that by the veterans. It was a really cool thing."

Heat star Jimmy Butler was facing his former team, having left Philadelphia only in July, and was thrilled to come out on the winning side.

He said: "I think we came out locked and loaded, man. It feels good to get this one on the road. But we did what we said we were going to do yesterday in the meeting. We talked about it this morning.

"I think we came out and executed our game plan extremely well."

Philadelphia paid a heavy price for their inaccuracy from three-point range, making just 30.8 per cent of their shots from outside the arc, and they could not handle the Heat's 2-3 zone defense.

Sixers star Joel Embiid said in the Philadelphia Inquirer: "When you don't make shots and they are playing zone, they are going to keep doing it. That is how they won the game."

The Miami Heat snapped the Philadelphia 76ers' unbeaten start at home with a 108-104 victory in the NBA.

Philadelphia boasted a 14-0 record on home court until Wednesday's defeat to their Eastern Conference rivals at Wells Fargo Center.

The 76ers eased past the Heat 113-86 in Philadelphia last month, however, they succumbed to Miami (20-8) and Kendrick Nunn's 26 points and Bam Adebayo's 23.

Joel Embiid posted 22 points and 19 rebounds for the 76ers (20-9), who closed within 106-104 25.5 seconds from the end.

Meanwhile, the Boston Celtics prevailed 109-103 against the Luka Doncic-less Dallas Mavericks midweek.

Kemba Walker's 32 points were a game high as the Celtics left Dallas with the win.

 

Pelicans snap franchise record

After a franchise-worst 13-game losing streak, the New Orleans Pelicans upstaged the Minnesota Timberwolves 107-99. Brandon Ingram had 34 points for the visiting Pelicans.

Defending champions the Toronto Raptors were 112-99 winners against the Detroit Pistons thanks to Kyle Lowry's 20 points, 10 rebounds and 10 assists.

Jamal Murray's 33 points and Nikola Jokic's double-double of 18 points and 12 assists fuelled the Denver Nuggets' 113-104 victory over the Orlando Magic.

 

Raptors pay the price

Already without star guard Fred VanVleet, the Raptors lost Marc Gasol and Norman Powell to injures in Detroit. Gasol left with a hamstring strain in the opening quarter before Nowell departed in the fourth due to his left shoulder.

Thaddeus Young made just one field goal from 10 attempts and was 0 of four from beyond the arc in 20 minutes as the Chicago Bulls edged the Washington Wizards 110-109 in overtime.

 

Lillard says no!

As Alec Burks stared down a three-pointer, Portland Trail Blazers star Damian Lillard swatted the ball away from the Golden State Warriors man.

Wednesday's results

Denver Nuggets 113-104 Orlando Magic
Oklahoma City Thunder 126-122 Memphis Grizzlies
New Orleans Pelicans 107-99 Minnesota Timberwolves
Toronto Raptors 112-99 Detroit Pistons
Miami Heat 108-104 Philadelphia 76ers
Cleveland Cavaliers 100-98 Charlotte Hornets
Chicago Bulls 110-109 Washington Wizards (OT)
Boston Celtics 109-103 Dallas Mavericks
Portland Trail Blazers 122-112 Golden State Warriors

 

Lakers at Bucks

It is the battle everyone has been waiting for. Thursday's showdown sees Western Conference leaders the Los Angeles Lakers visit Eastern Conference pacesetters the Milwaukee Bucks. All eyes will be on LeBron James and reigning MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo.

Anthony Davis is not ready to commit to the Los Angeles Lakers ahead of free agency, despite his stellar start to life at the Staples Center.

Davis has barely missed a beat since swapping the New Orleans Pelicans for the Lakers prior to the start of the NBA season, helping Los Angeles to a joint-NBA best 24-4 record.

But Davis is a free agent at the end of the campaign, and the six-time All-Star has previously talked up the "possibility" of joining hometown team the Chicago Bulls.

"I still look at it as we'll see what happens at the end of the season," Davis told ESPN.

"Obviously, the season's going great so far and I'm trying to stay in the moment and worry about that when the season's over. But I feel like we can do something special this year.

"With the team that we put together and the coaching staff that we have, I don't feel like no one can beat us but the Los Angeles Lakers.

"But when that time comes I'll think about it and see what's going on. But right now I'm trying to focus and win a championship with the Los Angeles Lakers."

Since teaming up with LeBron James in Los Angeles, Davis is averaging 27.4 points, 9.3 rebounds and 3.3 assists per game.

Davis, though, is questionable for Thursday's blockbuster clash with the Milwaukee Bucks – who the Lakers are tied with for the best record in the league – due to a left ankle sprain.

"We'll see how the ankle feels and hopefully I'm able to play," Davis told The Dan Patrick Show.

The Los Angeles Lakers and Milwaukee Bucks meet in a blockbuster clash between the NBA's two conference leaders on Thursday.

Holding the best records in the NBA at 24-4, the Western Conference-leading Lakers visit the Eastern Conference leaders at Fiserv Forum.

The Bucks and Lakers will meet just twice during the regular season and both encounters are shaping as must-watch matches.

With the help of Stats Perform data, we take a closer look at the two teams' starts to the season.

Matchup among the best

With a 48-8 combined win-loss record, this clash marks the seventh highest combined win percentage (.857) entering a game since 1970-71, with a minimum of 25 games played by both teams.

Milwaukee set up their record on the back of an 18-game winning streak that was only broken by the Dallas Mavericks on Monday.

The Lakers, meanwhile, are also going into the game on the back of a defeat after losing to the Indiana Pacers.

They have embarked on two seven-game runs and a 10-match winning streak this season.

The Lakers and Bucks' 24-4 records are the equal 13th best through the first 28 games of an NBA season.

Bucks impressively cruising

Led by reigning MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo, who is averaging 31.7 points, 12.8 rebounds and 5.3 assists per game this season, Milwaukee have dominated.

Their points/G differential of 12.9 is the highest in the NBA since 1970-71, currently standing greater than the 1971-72 Lakers (12.3) and 70-71 Bucks (12.3).

Both those Lakers and Bucks went on to win the NBA championship.

Milwaukee have claimed huge victories over the likes of the New York Knicks (132-88), Charlotte Hornets (137-96), Orlando Magic (123-91), Minnesota Timberwolves (134-106), Los Angeles Clippers (119-91) and Detroit Pistons (127-103) this season.

 

Lakers duo starring

As was expected, LeBron James and Anthony Davis have led the Lakers.

James is averaging 25.9 points, 10.6 assists and 7.4 rebounds per game this season, while Davis (27.4 points, 9.3 rebounds and 3.3 assists) is also delivering impressive numbers.

The pair are tracking to be among the best team-mate duos – to have played in 70 per cent of their team's games – since 1976-77, when it comes to most points plus assists plus rebounds.

James (43.9) and Davis (40.0) are fifth on the list at 83.9, with Houston Rockets pair James Harden (52.3) and Russell Westbrook (38.1) topping it at 90.4 after their performances this season.

Giannis Antetokounmpo described LeBron James as "an alien", with the Los Angeles Lakers superstar continuing to dominate despite his advancing years.

James – who celebrates his 35th birthday on December 30 – is averaging 25.9 points, 7.4 rebounds and 10.6 assists per game for the Lakers this season.

The three-time NBA champion and four-time MVP is showing no signs of slowing down in his 17th year in the league, following a difficult first season with the Lakers.

Reigning MVP and Milwaukee Bucks star Antetokounmpo hailed James ahead of Thursday's blockbuster showdown – pitting the league's two best teams against each other.

"It's crazy. Obviously, for me, that's one of my goals to be able to play at a high level for the next 10 years, but he's about to turn 35 this month and he's moving like that, playing like that, and just playing smart," Antetokounmpo told reporters on Wednesday.

"It's insane to see what he's able to do, but he's LeBron James, he's different. He's an alien. So you expect it from him, but yeah, it's crazy."

With matching 24-4 records, the Bucks and Lakers top the Eastern and Western Conferences respectively this season.

The Bucks had their 18-game winning streak snapped by the Dallas Mavericks, while the Lakers fell to the Indiana Pacers on Tuesday.

Ahead of the clash at Fiserv Forum in Milwaukee, Bucks head coach Mike Budenholzer said: "What LeBron James has done in our league is phenomenal.

"He's just a very, very special player, so any time you get to play against him – and now Anthony Davis is very similar and they've got great fits, great players around them. So I think the thing we often talk about when you play a really good team is how you get tested and how you learn more about yourself.

"I think that's kind of the way I look at it, and that usually means you're playing somebody good, and I'm excited about that opportunity."

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