The NBA-leading Milwaukee Bucks extended their winning streak to 15 games after defeating the Brooklyn Nets 118-104 away from home on Tuesday.

Milwaukee are now one win away from tying the third-longest streak in franchise history, while their best-ever run of 20 games, led by the great Kareem Abdul-Jabbar in the 1970-71 season, is now also within reach.

They had to come from behind against the Nets, trailing 35-22 early in the second quarter, but they pulled things level halfway through the third and then hit the front for the entire fourth period.

The Bucks were led by MVP hopeful Giannis Antetokounmpo with a game-high 33 points on 15-of-27 shooting, adding 15 rebounds and four assists on his return, while Defensive Player of the Year candidate Brook Lopez chipped in 13 points (six-of-13 shooting), 10 rebounds and two blocks.

Three-time All-Star wing Khris Middleton continued his road to recovery with 18 points (seven-of-13), six assists and two steals in 23 minutes off the bench, but he is still yet to exceed 25 minutes in a game since the new year began.

For the Nets, Mikal Bridges was terrific with 31 points (11-of-19), five assists and two steals, and Spencer Dinwiddie put together a strong stat-line of 26 points (nine-of-17), eight assists and six rebounds.

With the win, the Bucks improved to 44-17, remaining ahead of the Boston Celtics (44-18) for the best record in the league.

Brooklyn have lost seven of their past nine, but still sit sixth in the Eastern Conference at 34-27.

Lakers drop first game of LeBron's absence

Desperate for a strong finish to sneak into the playoffs, the Los Angeles Lakers suffered a 121-109 defeat against the Memphis Grizzlies in the first game since LeBron James' injury.

James is expected to miss at least two weeks, and Anthony Davis stepped up to try and fill the void, contributing a team-high 28 points (nine-of-19), a game-high 19 rebounds and a game-high five blocks.

But it was not enough to prevent Ja Morant from getting the result for Memphis, with the reigning Most Improved Player putting together a massive 39-point triple-double, shooting 15-of-29 from the field with 10 rebounds and 10 assists.

Memphis (37-23) are almost a lock for a top-four seed in the west, but the Lakers (29-33) sit 12th, one game out of the play-in tournament places and 2.5 wins out of the six seed.

Warriors pull above .500

It threatened to be the latest Damian Lillard masterclass early before the Golden State Warriors strangled the life out of the Portland Trail Blazers in the second half of a 123-105 home victory.

Lillard – who is leading the NBA in scoring over the past 15 games with a gaudy 39.5 per contest – had 15 in the first quarter to help the Blazers build a 41-27 lead at the first break.

Golden State steadied the ship, and then produced a 75-40 second half, holding Lillard to just 10 points in the next three quarters and nine-of-21 shooting overall.

Jordan Poole led the way offensively for the Warriors, scoring 29 points (10-of-24 shooting) with six rebounds and five assists, while Donte DiVincenzo put together another strong performance in the starting line-up with 21 points (eight-of-11).

The win, combined with the Dallas Mavericks' loss, meant the Warriors (31-30) ended the day sitting sixth in the West.

The Los Angeles Lakers do not know how long they will be without LeBron James but expect it to be more than two weeks, according to reports.

James' right foot soreness appeared on the Lakers' injury report on Monday as he was ruled out of Tuesday's game against the Memphis Grizzlies.

That will not be the extent of the 38-year-old's absence, however, having appeared to sustain the injury in the third quarter of Sunday's win over the Dallas Mavericks.

Replays showed there was no contact made with James before he went down.

The Athletic's Shams Charania reported James would miss "an extended period of time", and ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski added he would be reassessed in a fortnight with the expectation he would not be fit to return.

There are just shy of six weeks remaining of the regular season, of which James is likely to be absent for a significant chunk.

The Lakers are running out of time to rescue their season, improving following the trade deadline but still half a game outside the play-in places.

LeBron James is missing the Los Angeles Lakers' game against the Memphis Grizzlies after appearing to sustain an injury in his last outing.

James was clearly limping by the end of Sunday's win over the Dallas Mavericks.

The 38-year-old went down in some pain late in the third quarter of that game, although replays showed there was no contact with a Mavericks player.

Now, the Lakers have confirmed James will not play any part against the Grizzlies on Tuesday, listing his right foot soreness on their injury report.

ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski has reported James is feared to be out for several weeks, although he is still undergoing further testing.

James said after Sunday's game his foot had "been better".

The team have increasingly limited options, with D'Angelo Russell already doubtful due to the right ankle sprain that kept him out of the Mavericks game.

Anthony Davis was probable to play despite what the Lakers described as a right foot stress injury.

The 29-32 Lakers are a game back from the play-in places in the Western Conference.

LeBron James is missing the Los Angeles Lakers' game against the Memphis Grizzlies after appearing to sustain an injury in his last outing.

James was clearly limping by the end of Sunday's win over the Dallas Mavericks.

The 38-year-old went down in some pain late in the third quarter of that game, although replays showed there was no contact with a Mavericks player.

Now, the Lakers have confirmed James will not play any part against the Grizzlies on Tuesday, listing his right foot soreness on their injury report.

ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski has reported James is feared to be out for several weeks although he is still undergoing further testing.

James said after Sunday's game his foot had "been better".

The team have increasingly limited options, with D'Angelo Russell already doubtful due to the right ankle sprain that kept him out of the Mavericks game.

Anthony Davis was probable to play despite what the Lakers described as a right foot stress injury.

The 29-32 Lakers are a game back from the play-in places in the Western Conference.

The Los Angeles Lakers came back from 27 points down on Sunday against the Dallas Mavericks to produce the largest comeback of the season.

Early in the second quarter the Lakers trailed 48-21, before going on to escape with a 111-108 victory for their third win in a row, and their biggest comeback since 2002.

Trade deadline acquisition Malik Beasley announced his arrival with a 25-point outburst in Thursday's win against the Golden State Warriors, and this time around it was Jarred Vanderbilt showing why he has forced his way into the Lakers' starting line-up.

The rangy six-foot-eight defensive menace was everywhere, working as the primary defender on Luka Doncic on his way to 15 points (six-of-eight shooting), 17 rebounds (eight offensive) and four steals in his 27 minutes.

Anthony Davis was the star of the show on the offensive end, scoring a game-high 30 points on 12-of-20 shooting with 15 rebounds and four assists, and the league's active leader for career blocked shots per game swatted away three Maverick attempts.

LeBron James had an injury scare, and while he is still not out of the woods, he stayed in the game and put up 26 points on 10-of-23 shooting with eight rebounds.

For the Mavericks, Luka Doncic and Kyrie Irving shot a combined 18-of-44 (40 per cent) from the field for 47 points, while the other three members of the starting line-up combined for 18 points.

With the win, the Lakers improved their record to 29-32 and now sit just one game out of the Play-In Tournament placings, while they are also just 2.5 games away from the Mavericks in the sixth seed.

Lillard puts on a show

Damian Lillard matched Donovan Mitchell's season-best 71 points as he scored 13 three-pointers in the Portland Trail Blazers' 131-114 win over the Houston Rockets.

The Blazers guard's 71-point mark was both a franchise and career high, topping his previous record of 61.

Lillard had 41 points with eight triples by half-time, the most points of any player in a half this season. He shot 13-of-22 from beyond the arc for the game, having a perfect 14-of-14 from the line.

Klay stays hot

After 42 points and 12 three-pointers on Friday's win, Klay Thompson led the Golden State Warriors to a 109-104 home win against the Minnesota Timberwolves.

The future Hall of Fame sharpshooter hit another six threes on his way to a team-high 32 points, shooting 12-of-23 from the field and six-of-14 from deep. Donte DiVincenzo was strong in a supporting role, chipping in 21 points (seven-of-13 shooting), eight rebounds, five assists and four steals.

After shooting a red-hot 43.1 per cent on a gaudy 11.6 three-point attempts per game in the month of January, Thompson has elevated even further this month, getting up 12.1 attempts per game and connecting at 45.9 per cent.

LeBron James conceded he was troubled by a foot issue in Sunday's 111-108 victory over the Dallas Mavericks where the Los Angeles Lakers rallied from 27 points down.

The Lakers pulled off the biggest comeback win of the NBA season, with James playing out the game despite sustaining a right foot problem late in the third quarter.

James appeared to tell teammates "I heard it pop" as he lay on the ground after his failed lay-up attempt where he suffered the injury.

Despite a noticeable limp post-game, James finished with 26 points on 10-of-23 shooting from the field with eight rebounds and three assists.

"It's been better," James told reporters. "That's for sure. But I definitely wasn't going to go to the locker room and not finish the game out tonight.

"Just understood the importance of the game and then with the momentum that we had, I felt like we could still win after being down.

"We'll monitor it the next couple days, see how it feels and go from there."

On the injury, Lakers head coach Darvin Ham added: "He's good. Our medical people are looking at him right now, he'll get reevaluated again in the morning."

Ham denied that James had said he heard a "pop" upon sustaining the injury.

The victory means the Lakers are 4-1 since their NBA deadline day trades that included the acquisitions of Jarred Vanderbilt and Malik Beasley, who both started on Sunday, along with D'Angelo Russell.

The Lakers are in a race to make the playoffs or the play-in tournament, sitting 11th in the Western Conference with a 29-32 record.

Their recent run of wins has boosted their playoffs hopes, particularly given the new-look line-up.

"I feel like we're in a good place," James said. "We're gonna try to continue that."

Ham added that the Lakers never got "discouraged" as they mounted the biggest comeback win of the season.

"The guys never got discouraged," Ham said. "They had that look of frustration, but it wasn't a look of defeatedness on their faces. Everybody just wanted to stay encouraged."

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.

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