The Bobcats handily defeated the Toronto Raptors, 114-101, on Tuesday night at the Cable Box. DJ Augustin led the way with 23 points and 8 assists/o turnovers, while Gerald Wallace relentlessly drove at Toronto’s weak interior defenders en route to 14-15 FTs and 20 points.
The Bobcats took the lead late in the first quarter and never looked back. They stretched the lead out to double digits in the second and nearly out to 20 briefly in the third. A meaningless Raptors rally cut the Cats lead to 11 midway through the fourth before Gerald Wallace closed the door for good by getting to the line for 5-6 free throws on three consecutive possessions.
Boris Diaw had a strong game with 16 points (6-10 FG), 9 assists and 4 steals. Gerald Henderson added 15 points (5-11 FG) and 6 rebounds in 27 minutes off the bench.
The Raptors are pretty much a mess, and it starts with their best player. 7’0″ center Andrea Bargnani is about as soft as they come, and his nonexistent defensive ability and effort set the tone for the rest of the young team.
Stephen Jackson left the game in the third quarter after taking contact and landing awkwardly during a layup. Jackson left the floor limping and holding his left hamstring. He soon returned to the bench, but did not re-enter the game. Jackson said after the game the injury was not a concern and that he could have played if called upon.
Nazr Mohammed did his best Kevin Love impression, grabbing 14 rebounds in just 24 minutes off the bench.
Boris capped his night of with a breakaway dunk that was rather out of character. After a feed from DJ, who had stolen the ball in the backcourt, Boris cocked it back behind his head before stuffing it two-handed. I would say that he was inspired by this past weekend’s slam dunk contest, but you and I know there’s no way Boris watched that.
Weird line for Jerryd Bayless. He was about as relentless going to the rack as Gerald Wallace and had 11-12 FT, but was 0-4 from the field. He also tallied 10 assists, but gave up 4 turnovers and committed 4 fouls.
The Pacers took care of the Wiz tonight, so maintain their one game lead on the Bobcats for the 8th playoff spot.
Bobcats don’t play again until Friday night when they host the Kings at the Cable Box, 7 PM ET start. The Kings will be without Tyreke Evans, who is missing time with plantar fasciitis, and Carl Landry, who is about to get traded to the Hornets for Marcus Thornton.
Thoughts at the Trade Deadline
Bonus trade deadline thoughts! Now that the Carmelo deal is done, some other smaller deals are starting to go down. The deadline is at 3 PM ET on Thursday. Several sources have indicated that the Bobcats have been active on the phones.
But Paul Silas has been quoted both Monday and Tuesday as saying that he doesn’t think the Bobcats will be making a trade; his quote from Tuesday made it sound as if the Bobcats had only received ludicrous proposals from other teams: “We’re not just going to give people away and that’s what most teams want you to do.”
That’s basically code for: “You know who we’ve got on the block. We’re ready to deal, but you’re going to have to step your offer up.”
And while I agree that the Bobcats should only trade Gerald Wallace if they get a Godfather offer, and should be pretty picky about giving Boris Diaw up, I wouldn’t be as choosy about a Stephen Jackson trade. I’d jump on a mix of an expiring contract and a draft pick in a heartbeat, but that’s probably not happening.
Whatever the case, despite Silas’s proclamation that “nothing’s happening”, expect to hear the Bobcats continue to come up in deadline buzz over the next day and half.
POLL : What should the Bobcats do at the trade deadline?
Gerald Henderson (Photo Credit: Kent Smith/NBAE/Getty Images)
One of the primary knocks against the Charlotte Bobcats has been the lack of young talent on the roster. The Bobcats draft history is littered with busts that will not be rehashed again here. The lack of success in the draft has forced the Cats to rely on trading for players with considerable baggage (Stephen Jackson, Tyrus Thomas) and signing third tier free agents (Kwame Brown, Dominic McGuire).
But since the coaching change from Larry Brown to Paul Silas, Charlotte’s recent drafts are looking a little better. The improvement of DJ Augustin immediately after the arrival of Silas was well noted (though DJ has slumped recently as opponents have adjusted and he’s dealt with a wrist injury). But an even newer development has been the emergence of Gerald Henderson, the 12th pick in the 2009 draft.
Buried Under Larry Brown
Henderson played little his rookie year and showed little when he did. But if you looked hard enough, you could see some strengths: driving/slashing/finishing and defense, both on-ball on the perimeter and help from the weakside.
This season, Henderson was on a roller coaster for the 28 games that Larry Brown coached — he played regularly to start the season, but then found himself in Brown’s doghouse and didn’t get off the bench for 14 straight games from mid-November to mid-December. Henderson did make his way back into the rotation for a few games during Brown’s last days in December.
Here are Henderson’s per game numbers and shooting percentages for the 14 games he did play in under Brown this season:
Nothing worth writing about, but again there were flashes of his strengths with no team-killing weaknesses to speak of, which made it all the more frustrating that he was in the doghouse instead of on the court getting the “royal jelly”.
Emerging Under Paul Silas
At the All-Star break, Paul Silas has now coached 28 games and has played Gerald Henderson in all 28. Henderson has been increasingly productive over this time. Let’s break up those games into three chunks and look at the trends (unfortunately, 28 is not evenly divisible by three, so I’m splitting it into the first 10, second 9 and third 9 games).
First 10 games — Henderson immediately sees increased playing time and responds:
In the 9 games thus far in February, Gerald Henderson has increased his shooting to 51.5% from the field and 78.0% from the free throw line. He’s averaging 11.4 points per game, which projects to 17.5 points per 36 minutes. With DJ Augustin slumping, Stephen Jackson frequently more engaged with the refs than with the opponent, and Boris Diaw fading in and out of relevance as he is wont to do, there have been nights when it’s felt like Henderson’s been the second best offensive option.
Scouting Gerald Henderson
Henderson’s offensive game is limited, but fairly polished, and certainly evolving. His two greatest strengths are his mid-range jumper and his driving/slashing ability. He readily hits the mid-range jumper curling off of down screens, but also strokes it nicely off the dribble moving to his right. Here are some great examples from the January 20th win over the 76ers that Henderson played a huge role in:
Henderson is also blessed with a quick first step to his right (ask Kobe Bryant, who was victimized a couple times in the Bobcats recent win over the Lakers) and above-average leaping ability and strength once he gets to the rim. He gets a fair amount of dunks and layups and trips to the free throw line. Here’s an example (stick around for the Gerald Wallace alley-oop, too):
Henderson lacks range out the the three-point line, and doesn’t have much of an iso/one-on-one/post-up game — these are both areas that can be developed. His ballhandling is OK for a 2-guard, but it’s not good enough that you’ll ever see him slide over to the point like some 2s can.
Defensively, Henderson is very good. He’s quick with his feet and strong, making him an solid on-ball perimeter defender. Here’s a great example from the January 18th win over the Bulls. Watch the whole highlight package and note how many times Derrick Rose abuses DJ Augustin. With the Bulls down one with a chance to win at the end, Silas inserts Henderson in the game specifically to check Rose. Watch Henderson hound Rose on the last play, forcing him out into taking a fading, off-balance, 22-footer that he misses. Aren’t many people can do this to Derrick Rose:
And if you do get a half-step around Henderson, please remember the aforementioned leaping ability:
82games.com only has their advanced stats updated through the January 19th games this year, but even without the last month in the sample, Henderson’s defense shines through. With Henderson on the court, Bobcats opponents average 102.4 points per 100 possessions — with Henderson OFF the court, opponents average 108.1 points per 100 possessions.
Maybe that doesn’t seem like much, but compare it to Stephen Jackson, starting and playing ahead of Henderson. With Jack on the court, Bobcats opponents average 109.4 points per 100 possessions; with Jack OFF the court they average 100.0 points per 100 possessions. Wrong direction for Jack. This particular statistic deserves more attention as the season goes on and the numbers are updated.
So, What Does This Mean?
As I’ve said many times in this space before, nothing is more important to a small-market/low-revenue franchise’s overall success than drafting well. Big market teams in desirable locations can afford to botch drafts, then save themselves with A-list free agent signings and forced trades (see: Miami Heat, New York Knicks, etc.). But when a team like the Bobcats has a productive player on a rookie-scale contract, it’s something of an equalizer. It gives you a fighting chance. It also gives you flexibility.
As the trading deadline approaches, the Bobcats (currently one game out of the 8th playoff spot in the East) will undoubtedly be listening to proposals involving Gerald Wallace, Stephen Jackson, Boris Diaw, and possibly even Nazr Mohammed. Contending teams like Dallas, Chicago, Boston and Los Angeles will be looking for a veteran piece to put them over the top in their championship drive.
From the Bobcats perspective, you have to look at those guys and ask: Whose game is declining (especially if their contract is still inclining)? Who’s not fitting in, either from an Xs-and-Os or a chemistry standpoint? And, who has a backup that’s starting to push them for playing time?
Stephen Jackson is the answer to a lot of those questions (so is Boris Diaw, but that’s for another day).
Now in fairness, Jackson’s offense isn’t overtly declining, and it’s still vital for the Bobcats from and Xs-and-Os standpoint. He’s a volume shooter with range to the three-point line, a good post-up/isolation game and a barely-still-there ability to attack the basket. He’s also got the swagger to be the go-to guy for a team that otherwise doesn’t have one.
But Jackson’s defense is almost certainly on the decline (if it ever was very good, I’m not sure). Chemistry-wise, his preoccupation with the referees is a huge negative. There aren’t any stats for this, and credit the rest of the Bobcats for not ever publicly throwing Jackson under the bus, but there’s no way it doesn’t affect the morale/chemistry of this team.
It also hurts from a sheer basketball perspective at times — not just when Jackson is ejected early in games as he has twice this season — but also when he doesn’t get back on defense 2-3 times per game because he’s engaged with a referee about a perceived missed call (which may be partially reflected in those team defensive statistics). Likewise, that stuff undoubtedly affects how the referees officiate the rest of the team to a (hopefully) limited extent.
And most importantly, Gerald Henderson’s play has improved to the point that he’s no longer just a valid reserve who deserves some time because he was highly drafted — he’s legitimately contributing to this team’s recent strong play and is beginning to push Stephen Jackson for playing time. To not notice or act on this nascent trend while there may be an opportunity to trade Jackson and the two more years and $20 million left on his contract would be a significant misstep for the Bobcats.
And yes, I fully agree that trading Jackson and his offense might be a nail in the coffin for the Bobcats’ playoff chances this season. But there are already a few nails in that coffin (Hollinger’s playoff odds gives the Cats only a 28% chance of making it in anyways) and the trade would be more about the future.
Besides, are two home playoff dates in the course of a sweep by Boston or Miami this spring really worth that much anyways? And if they are, who’s to say that the Bobcats wouldn’t have just as good a shot with some further improvement from Henderson and whatever the trade might bring back?
Henderson’s recent emergence behooves us to consider this.
Strange thing I learned while writing this article: According to Wikipedia, neither this Gerald Henderson, nor his father, Gerald Henderson, Sr. are actually named Gerald. Both are named Jerome McKinley Henderson. Weird, right?
Funny thing I learned while writing this article: When you type S-t-e-p-h-e-n J-a-c-k into Google, the third thing to be suggested (after “Stephen Jackson” and “Stephen Jackson bobcats”) is: “Stephen Jackson ejected”. If that doesn’t say it all…
Coach Silas & GM Rod Higgins (John D. Simmons/Charlotte Observer)
The Bobcats announced Wednesday that they’ve removed the “interim” tag from coach Paul Silas and extended his contract through the 2011-12 season. Terms of the deal have not been disclosed. From Mike Cranston:
The 67-year-old Silas brought a calming influence and a more uptempo, free-flowing style. He’s led the Bobcats to a 15-13 mark to get within 1 1/2 games of the Indiana Pacers for the final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference.
Silas believes the Bobcats have a “very good shot” at making the postseason for the second straight season.
“My main goal when I took this job was to change the atmosphere, change the attitude and make the team more confident,” Silas said. “I think we’ve begun to accomplish those goals.”
The 6-foot-7 Silas, a bruising and elite rebounder who played 16 seasons in the NBA, first fell ill after a colonoscopy in 2008. He said doctors performed exploratory surgery to determine why he was feeling poorly, which led to blood clots in his lungs.
The clots then moved to the quadriceps muscle in his left leg.
“I would walk down steps and I would just fall down,” Silas said. “It was touch and go.”
Things got worse and Silas was hospitalized on Christmas Eve 2008 and sedated as doctors tried to solve his medical problems.
“I was in intensive care for about six weeks,” Silas said. “I was out. It was scary for my family. I don’t remember anything during that six-week period.”
Eventually blood thinners eliminated the blood clots and Silas slowly got back to his feet after later problems with his liver. After gaining a lot of weight in part due to the medication, he’s lost 50 pounds and feeling better daily. Doctors later determined the cause of his initial illness was being allergic to anesthesia.
Silas said it wasn’t until about a year ago that he felt good enough to coach.
Kind of a bizarre story, and explains why Silas was out of coaching those years. Also helps to explain why the Bobcats were careful with initially putting the “interim” tag on Silas. Clearly, the newly svelte Silas has been able to hold up amidst the travel and daily grind of coaching in the NBA.
Overall, it’s hard to question this move. The Cats have clearly responded to Silas; he is well-regarded amongst the fanbase; his health appears in order; and (speculation alert) he likely comes at a very reasonable price — not an unimportant concern for the Bobcats.
Not extending him might have undermined the team’s tenuous recent improvement and confidence. So does this mean the Bobcats are committed to this squad making a playoff run instead of blowing it up at the trade deadline?
It’s a reasonable inference, especially with the absence of trade chatter around the league and the seeming lack of buyers for contracts like Stephen Jackson’s, but not necessarily. Silas has had a more dramatic effect on the younger players like DJ Augustin, Shaun Livingston and Gerald Henderson who would be part of a new core anyways. I still wouldn’t rule out a Stephen Jackson, Gerald Wallace, Boris Diaw or Nazr Mohammed trade next week if a great deal comes along.
“He’s at a point now where he could take over,” Silas said. “He’s helped me immensely. He’s been in this thing for 10 years now. His time is coming. He’ll just have to wait it out… I told him I’d be his assistant behind the bench.”
I’m wary of nepotism, but in certain businesses where the pool of candidates who can get their foot in the door is so limited, it’s unavoidable. The younger Silas seems to be a good new-school foil for his father at this point. He’s more of an Xs and Os guy, and is generally the one diagramming plays and schemes during timeouts. If he’s also got his father’s gift for people skills, he could be an excellent candidate for a head-coaching job in the near future.
The Charlotte Bobcats defeated the Los Angeles Lakers 109-89 on Monday night at the Cable Box; the Cats have now defeated the Lakers 8 out of the last 10 times the two teams have played. Gerald Wallace led the Bobcats with 20 points and 11 rebounds; Gerald Henderson added 18 points (6-9 FG, 5-5 FT), 4 rebounds, 4 assists and 2 blocks off the bench.
The deck was stacked against the Lakers to start: they were finishing up a long road trip AND on the second night of a back-to-back; plus, Kobe was under the weather. After a bit of a slow start, the Cats took advantage, building a six point lead to take into halftime.
The wheels really fell off for the Lakers late in the third. With a laboring Kobe on the bench, the Cats went on a 14-3 run, capped by a 15-foot jumper and a short hook shot by Kwame Brown and a three pointer at the buzzer by Gerald Wallace, for a 78-60 lead after three.
The barrage continued with Kobe and the Lakers starters back on the court to start the fourth, this time headed by Gerald Henderson and Nazr Mohammed, who both appeared to be unguardable for the exhausted Lakers. The Bobcats led by as much as 28 a couple of times before the benches emptied.
After oversleeping and arriving late to shootaround, Boris Diaw was supposedly going to be benched to start the game as discipline. But Silas apparently changed his mind, as Boris started and played well with 16 points (3-6 3PT).
DJ Augustin was supposedly also out after being limited in shootaround with a sprained wrist. But after pregame warmups he declared himself ready to go and notched 9 assists vs. 0 turnovers. Still not a complete bounceback from his recent slump, though, as he shot 3-7 FG and 1-4 3PT for just 7 points.
This has to be said: even if you took Stephen Jackson’s proclivity for antagonizing the officials and drawing technical fouls out of the equation, Gerald Henderson would still be pushing him for playing time. Henderson’s been that good recently.
The Charlotte Bobcats were outplayed by a dreadful New Jersey Nets team in a 94-89 loss at the Cable Box on Friday night. Brook Lopez led the Nets with 31 points and 11 rebounds. The Bobcats were led by Stephen Jackson with 21 points and Gerald Wallace with 20 points/9 rebounds.
The Nets snapped a 12 game road losing streak by leading wire to wire over the listless Bobcats, who appeared to be waiting around for a spark that never really came.
The Nets lead by as much as 18 in the third quarter before a half-hearted fourth quarter comeback by the Bobcats cut the lead down to four with just over three minutes left. But Devin Harris scored 5 points and assisted on another bucket over the next 90 seconds for a quick 7-0 Nets run that put the game away.
This had to be the worst performance by the Bobcats since Paul Silas took over, right? Despite being at home in front of a decent crowd on a Friday night, after a day off, and fighting for a playoff spot, the Cats had very little energy.
What’s up with DJ Augustin? Another quiet night (4 points on 2-10 FG) and he’s now shooting 31% FG and 28% 3PT for the month of February, while averaging just 3.8 assists. To compare, those numbers on the season are 43%, 38%, and 6.2, respectively.
I’m going to put a lot of the blame for this one on Cardboard Gerald. Cardboard’s been riding Brook Lopez pretty hard on Twitter recently for his historically weak rebounding this season. So what does Lopez do? Grabs 11 rebounds (averaging 5.6 for the season) and dominates inside for 31 points.
While the Bobcats were stinking up the Cable Box, the Pacers were busy getting another win (116-105 over the T-Wolves), thus increasing their lead over the Bobcats for the 8th playoff spot to a full two games.
And the upcoming schedule is not exactly conducive to making up that gap. The Cats are at Atlanta tomorrow night (7 PM start), home against the Lakers on Monday, then at Chicago on Tuesday leading into the All-Star break. Ouch.
So hopefully I’m just being cranky and pessimistic and premature, but I’m feeling like we’ll point back to these last two losses as the beginning of the end for the Bobcats this season. After the All-Star break, the Bobcats will have three more games until the trade deadline — so just six more games in all to decide whether to go all-in and try to make the playoffs again or to entertain trade offers for our veterans who could help a playoff team. As the losses mount up, the choice becomes clearer and clearer.
The Charlotte Bobcats rode big contributions from unlikely sources to beat the East-leading Boston Celtics 94-89 on Monday night at the Cable Box. After Stephen Jackson was ejected arguing a call in the second quarter, Shaun Livingston and Gerald Henderson stepped up off the bench to fill the void. Gerald Wallace continued his recent strong play, leading the Bobcats with 19 points and 16 rebounds.
After hanging with, but ultimately succumbing to elite teams twice over the weekend at home, the Bobcats got another chance against the Boston Celtics, who were without Shaq, Marquis Daniels and Semih Erden due to injuries (not to mention Jermaine O’Neal and Delonte West) AND on the second night of a back-too-back.
This one started out similarly to the Heat and Mavs games: the Cats showing no signs of backing down, hanging right with the Celtics. Rajon Rondo and Ray Allen played well early on, while Stephen Jackson paced the Bobcats. Early in the second quarter, 6′-7″ Shaun Livingston took advantage of his matchup with 5′-9″ Nate Robinson to the tune of 10 points in a 5 minute span.
But late in the second quarter, Cap’n Jack struck again. After a defensive switch left Jackson on Garnett in the post, Garnett began to work for position. Jackson fought him for said position, forcing Garnett to take an awkward, slightly off-balance step. Garnett sold it well and a foul was called on Jackson.
It wasn’t a terrible call; but Jack apparently thought it was and laid into the official, quickly drawing a tech. Silas went to the bench to sub for Jack, but not quickly enough. Jack continued to berate the refs on the way towards the sideline and drew his second tech and an ejection.
But the Bobcats surprisingly wouldn’t fade, taking a one point lead into halftime. Midway through the third, Ray Allen and Paul Pierce hit back-to-back threes to give the Celtics 65-57 lead; but from that point, the Bobcats dug in for a strong finish.
The fourth quarter was an exctiting, back-and-forth affair that ultimately saw an unconventional Bobcats crunchtime group overcome Jack’s ejection and a Celtics team that appeared to run out of gas.
Coach Paul Silas went with Shaun Livingston’s hot hand down the stretch over DJ Augustin; Livingston responded and kept up his strong play, finishing the game with 18 points on 7-10 FG.
Gerald Henderson filled in admirably for Jackson, playing his customary fantastic perimeter defense and nailing a clutch 20-footer off a down screen with 2:31 left to give the Bobcats an 86-83 lead.
And on the next Bobcats possession, Eduardo Najera, who played great defense on Kevin Garnett in 19 minutes of playing time, drained a huge three to push the lead to 89-83. From there, good defense and a few free throws closed it out.
With Gerald Henderson’s continued improvement and Stephen Jackson’s persistent and apparently worsening troubles, is a trade becoming more and more likely? I’d love to see it, even if doing so meant the Bobcats falling out of the playoffs. Problem is, with Jack’s continued embarrassing behavior and the Maverick’s elite play with their current roster, would they still even be interested in him?
So Jack is up to 13 technical fouls, if you’re counting. As a reminder, once you get to 16, every other tech begets a one-game suspension. More disincentive for another team to make a trade for him.
Kwame Brown also picked up a tech for getting into Kendrick Perkins face after a hard foul.
Ray Allen had only two three-pointers and will have to wait another game to tie and overtake Reggie Miller for the all-time NBA record for made threes.
Next game is Wednesday night as the Bobcats visit Indianapolis to take on the Pacers; 7 PM ET start. Along with the Sixers and Bucks, the Pacers are one of the teams that the Bobcats will be fighting for the 7th-8th East playoff spot — so the head-to-head matchups are obviously huge. The Pacers currently lead the Cats by a half-game for the 8th spot.
The Bobcats used a 20-1 run spanning the third and fourth quarters to defeat the Pistons 97-87 in Detroit on Wednesday night. Stephen Jackson poured in a season-high 39 points (14-26 FG, 3-7 3PT, 8-10 FT) to lead the Cats as they finished their 6-game road trip at 4-2. The Cats are now 21-27 and hanging on to the 8th playoff spot heading into a brutal three game home-stand against Miami, Dallas and Boston.
The last game of a long road trip is always dangerous; it’s human nature for the mind to start wandering towards putting the keys in your own door and sleeping in your own bed whilst being blown out. But with Rodney Stuckey and Jason Maxiell out with injuries, Rip Hamilton exiled to the end of the bench, and their fans stuck at home under a foot of snow, the Pistons were hardly in position to take advantage of a possible letdown by the Bobcats anyways.
Stephen Jackson got the Bobcats off to a nice start despite DJ Augustin’s early foul trouble. Sherron Collins picked up seven first quarter minutes and played well, going 2-2 from the field and presiding over a 19-11 Bobcats run. The Cats maintained a small lead through the second quarter as Jack poured in the buckets and Kwame Brown hit the boards.
The Pistons came out strong after halftime and ran out to an 8 point lead before the Bobcats calmed things down. Towards the end of the third quarter, down 65-64, the Bobcats embarked on their epic run. Amidst a barrage of jumpers from Steven Jackson and dunks/layups from Kwame Brown, Gerald Henderson and Nazr Mohammed, the Pistons couldn’t get anything going.
Up 84-66 with 8 minutes left after Jackson’s three free throws capped the run, the Bobcats took their foot off the gas a bit. The Pistons went on a small run of their own to cut the lead to 7 with three minutes left, but Jack put an end to that with a strong drive into a layup. From there, a few DJ Augustin free throws iced the game.
Quick and easy numbers: The Bobcats shot 50.7% to the Pistons 43.6%, outrebounded the Pistons 46-30, and went 20-25 at the line to the Pistons 12-17.
Quintessential Boris Diaw line: 36 minutes, 0 points on 0-3 FG, 4 rebounds, 9 assists/2 turnovers, and a team high plus-minus of +15. Just embrace it.
Quiet game for DJ after his early foul trouble trying to match up against the stronger Ben Gordon. DJ scored 5 points in the final 46 seconds to get to double digits at 10 — but overall didn’t play well. Nice to see that the Bobcats could get a win despite that.
Another double-double for Kwame Brown: 14 points/10 rebounds.
So while the quality of the opponents (Sacramento by 5, Phoenix by 7, Golden State by 8 in OT, Detroit by 10) leaves something to be desired, a 4-2 road trip is a pretty impressive feat for this team. As noted above, the Bobcats now face a three game home-stand against a murderers row of opponents: Miami on Friday, Dallas on Saturday, and Boston on Monday, all 7 PM ET starts.
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