Magic Basketball: An Orlando Magic blog - Part 140

Apr 28

Preview: Orlando Magic at Atlanta Hawks, Game 6

7:30 EDT | NBA TV
52-30 @ 44-38
Pythagorean Record: 56-26 Pythagorean Record: 39-43
Pace: 91.4 (17th) Pace: 89.3 (27th)
Offensive Rating: 107.7 (14th) Offensive Rating: 106.1 (20th)
Defensive Rating: 101.8 (3rd) Defensive Rating: 107.0 (13th)
Philips Arena | Hawks lead series 3-2

Apr 28

Hedo Turkoglu is key to Game 6

Photo by J. Meric/Getty Images

Via Evan Dunlap of Orlando Pinstriped Post:

Orlando’s starting small forward has played miserably, apart from his passing, against Atlanta. He’s shooting 27.3 percent from the floor and averaging just 8 points in 33.6 minutes per game. He’s tended to shoot when he should pass and to defer when he should shoot. Further, Josh Smith has toasted him at the other end of the floor, averaging 15.6 points and more than 5 foul shots per game; he’d be even more effective if he were more accurate at the line than 50 percent, but that’s a separate issue.

The Magic’s two wins in this series prove they can dispatch Atlanta even with Turkoglu struggling. But you have to believe, at least a little bit, that a strong outing from Turkoglu tonight–say an efficient 12 points, with 5 assists and few turnovers–could tip the balance back in Orlando’s favor. He ought to be running the high screen-and-roll with Dwight Howard quite often, simply because it opens up everything in Orlando’s arsenal.

Turk can take it to the rim himself, stop to pop a jumper, dish to Howard on the roll, dish to Brandon Bass (or Ryan Anderson, depending on who’s playing power forward) filling the space Howard creates, dish to Jason Richardson in the corner, dish to Jameer Nelson up top or along the weak side wing, dribble along the baseline to force more defensive movement… you get the idea. No team can possibly take every option away, and especially not one playing Jason Collins, who’s only marginally more mobile than the basket stanchion, at center.

Make sure to check out Dunlap’s other keys to Game 6 for the Orlando Magic.

Turkoglu is merely one of the pieces to the puzzle as the Magic look to even the series with the Atlanta Hawks, though he is an important piece.

Apr 28

Sneak Preview: Orlando Magic at Atlanta Hawks, Game 6

Photo by J. Meric/Getty Images

  • Josh Robbins of the Orlando Sentinel: “Stan Van Gundy reached into his bag of rhetorical tricks Wednesday — all the way back to his seventh-grade phys-ed class. Van Gundy and his classmates were about to do a six-minute run as part of a physical-fitness test, and one of Van Gundy’s friends asked, ‘Coach, how do we pace ourselves in this?’ The P.E. teacher responded, ‘Gentlemen, go out as fast as you can and gradually increase your speed.’ Van Gundy recounted that anecdote as the Orlando Magic prepared to face the Atlanta Hawks in Game 6 Thursday night at Philips Arena. The Magic trail the series three games to two and need to win to stave off elimination. [...] If there’s been any commonality to the Magic’s road losses in this series — aside, that is, from Orlando’s awful shooting and poor perimeter defense — it’s been slow starts by the Magic. In those defeats, the Magic didn’t meet the Hawks’ energy level early on. The result: Orlando never led in the first quarter and never led by more than two points in either of the games. Those poor beginnings spurred the Hawks’ notoriously late-arriving fans and made Philips Arena a tough venue for the Magic.”
  • Brian Schmitz of the Orlando Sentinel: “Whether the Orlando Magic win or lose their first-round series to the Atlanta Hawks, coach Stan Van Gundy and General Manager Otis Smith both will be coming back next season. Magic CEO Bob Vander Weide told the Sentinel on Wednesday that he and owner Rich DeVos‘ family feel comfortable and confident in Van Gundy and Smith. [...] Smith and Van Gundy received contract extensions last summer through the 2012-13 season. The Magic’s struggles against the Hawks, plus their slide to 52 wins this season after two questionable mid-season trades, drew speculation about job security for Van Gundy and Smith — Smith in particular.”
  • John Denton of OrlandoMagic.com: “With his Orlando Magic seemingly down on their luck and desperate to somehow save their season, owner Rich DeVos made his way to the locker room to offer up what just might have been the biggest assist of the night. DeVos, one of the richest men in the world, told the Magic players down in the series against the Atlanta Hawks about a time when he could relate to their plight as frustrated and feeling hopeless. With his Amway empire still in its infancy, DeVos told the players of how he unsuccessfully traveled to China three different times in an attempt to grow his fledgling business. Just as he was about to give up, DeVos gave it a go for a fourth time – and this time the results were dramatically different. ‘The fourth time, we got it going and now we have a $5 billion business in China,’ DeVos told the team. The message applied to the Magic because they were down 3-1, but responded Tuesday night to stave off elimination by whipping the Atlanta Hawks 101-76 at the Amway Center. Clearly, the message about perseverance resonated with the Magic. Franchise center Dwight Howard’s eyebrows raised and Chris Duhon audibly muttered the word, ‘Wow!’ when DeVos talked about the powers of simply sticking with a pursuit.”
  • Michael Cunningham of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution: “There’s the history of the NBA playoffs, and there’s the recent chronicles of the Hawks. The former gives the Magic just a 4 percent chance to win their best-of-seven Eastern Conference playoff series against the Hawks after trailing 3-1. The latter is a story of postseason basketball that includes blowout losses, letdowns and series with promising starts followed by excruciating finishes. One bad night in Orlando encapsulated all of that. It’s not just that the Hawks lost Game 5 on Tuesday, it’s that they folded once the Magic surged to a commanding early lead. The nature of the 101-76 defeat is why the Hawks were queried about their state of mind, despite still leading the series 3-2 entering Game 6 on Thursday at Philips Arena.”
  • Jeff Schultz of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution: “This much is true: The Hawks did not lose game five to Orlando by 25 points solely because Johnson made only two of 12 shots, at least when we even noticed he was on the floor. They all stunk. But Johnson didn’t do nearly enough to prevent the loss – or even collective team humiliation – from happening. And yes, he does deserve a greater share of the blame than Josh Smith or Jamal Crawford or anybody else on the roster because more is expected from him. Such are the little inconveniences that come with a $123.7 million contract.”

Apr 27

Blue & White Ignite: Magic host Official Watch Party for Game 6 of first round

Via the Orlando Magic:

As Blue and White Ignite for the 2011 NBA Playoffs, the Magic are encouraging the entire Central Florida community to show their spirit and support the Magic at the Official Playoff Watch Party for Game 6 of the First Round on Thursday, April 28. The Magic will host an Official Playoff Watch Party at Mojo Cajun Bar and Grill (129 West Church Street) at 7:30 p.m.

Highlights of the Official Playoff Watch Party will include:

  • Drink Specials ($7 32 oz Domestic Drafts, $4 Bacardi Drinks, $3 Magic Shots)
  • Appearances by the Orlando Magic Dancers
  • Giveaways
  • Opportunity to win tickets to Game 7
  • Near Amway Center

Visit orlandomagic.com for full playoff details.

Apr 27

Recapping Game 5 for the Orlando Magic with Synergy

Photo by J. Meric/Getty Images

Before the playoffs started, I previewed Orlando’s first round matchup using data from Synergy Sports Technology. Last week, we looked at the playoff games in Atlanta. Today, let’s examine the results from the contest in Orlando.

Game 5

PPP = Points Per Possession

Orlando offense
The Magic shot 11-26 beyond the arc and it seemed like a Big Foot sighting. However, it wasn’t too far off their typical production. In the 2010-2011 regular season, Orlando attempted 20+ three-pointers and made 40% or more on 29 different occasions. 29!

J.J. Redick supplied shooting sorcery as he went 6-8 to spark the Magic. He scored two buckets in transition and made the rest as the ball handler in pick-and-roll situations. His jumper over Kirk Hinrich at the end of the first quarter put Orlando up 14 and he went to the line to complete the old fashioned three-point play. The former Blue Devil provided a great boost off the bench without even attempting a shot beyond the arc.

Two days removed from posting 0.44 PPP in spot-up situations, a rejuvenated Magic squad delivered 0.95 PPP. Hedo Turkoglu, Jason Richardson, and Ryan Anderson all made multiple spot-up attempts.

Orlando used possessions in transition more often in Game 5 than the any other playoff game. The team averaged 0.93 PPP and Anderson, Jameer Nelson, and Quentin Richardson all knocked down threes on the run.

All season long, the Magic have made an effort to post-up against Atlanta. In the first four playoff games, they never posted-up fewer than 21 times. On Tuesday, Orlando only went to the move on eight occasions, and Brandon Bass and Jason Richardson were responsible for the only buckets.

Orlando defense
The Hawks went to isolation plays frequently in the previous four games, but in Game 5, Atlanta only isolated 12.6% of the time. The next closest total was 17% of their plays in Game 3. Joe Johnson isolated four times yesterday and each of his attempts came against a different defender.

The Hawks, specifically Jamal Crawford, tore Orlando apart shooting off screens in Games 1 through 4. On Tuesday, the Hawks scored 0.57 PPP and misfired on all four attempts in the 1st quarter.

Orlando was upper echelon at stopping roll men during the regular season, but in the playoffs, Atlanta found success. In Game 5, Atlanta barely went to the play and missed on both of their shots from roll men.

The Magic coxed the Hawks into their most spot-up attempts so far in Game 5. The Hawks chucked it up 26 times and scored 1.04 PPP, their second lowest rate through five games.

Another area Atlanta was terrible in was transition. The Hawks used 13 possessions running, a playoff high, and clanged all five of their three-point attempts.

Game 5 was a reappearance of the 2010 NBA Playoffs. Now, the Magic head to Atlanta, where they haven’t won this season. Let’s hope The Otis Smith 11 can put Dwight Howard on their back again on Thursday and force Game 7.

Apr 27

Hedo Turkoglu’s fall from grace

Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

It has been an outright disaster watching Turk clumsily and weakly contribute to the demise of this Orlando Magic team’s playoff life. More than that, though, it’s sad. For Magic fans who remember just two seasons ago when the Turkish Michael Jordan posted decent numbers en route to a championship berth, this is just painful.

Somewhere between the summer of 2009 and April of 2011, Hedo fell from grace, and it’s hard to say exactly when that was. While some evidence points to his tenure in Phoenix, it seems that his demise began the moment he was dealt from Orlando in a sign-and-trade.

Turk’s effective field goal percentage at the moment is .332 percent, a far cry from the .481 percentage he posted in the 2009 playoffs. To make matters worse, he’s only hitting 16.7 percent of his shots from three-point range, and is scoring about half as many points per game as he did in 2009 (7.8 versus 15.8) even after recognizing the fact that he’s playing roughly five minutes less per game this time around.

Even his free throw percentage is at an all-time low of 50 percent for the playoffs.

So the real question is “why?” Why the huge drop off? Why the train wreck of a series so far from an individual standpoint? Why is Turk’s PER for the playoffs 5.2 compared to the 13.2 it was in 2009.

A big part of the Turkoglu equation that does not get mentioned enough is the impact of his hiatus in Phoenix. All non-basketball related hardships aside (moving three times in less than two years), Turk became a different player in Phoenix with an entirely different role. The Suns put up with him as more of a spot up, perimeter player. It changed his game, or at least his approach.

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Apr 27

Second Look: Orlando Magic 101, Atlanta Hawks 76

Photo by J. Meric/Getty Images

  • Josh Robbins of the Orlando Sentinel: “For the first four games of this playoff series, the Orlando Magic could depend on only one player: Dwight Howard. No one else hit shots consistently. No one else defended game-in, game-out effectively. And no one else brought the necessary intensity at the beginning of games. But with their team facing elimination Tuesday night, the rest of the Magic finally had Howard’s back. On an evening Howard faced early foul trouble, his much-maligned supporting cast turned Game 5 — and perhaps the series itself — on its ear. J.J. Redick, Jason Richardson and the rest of the roster propelled the Magic to a 101-76 thrashing of the Atlanta Hawks at Amway Center. Still, there actually was a time Tuesday when it seemed like the Magic might not force a Game 6. [...] Howard committed his second personal foul on a reach-in with 5:40 remaining in the first quarter and the Magic leading only 10-8. Coach Stan Van Gundy had to pull Howard out of the game. When Howard has been off the floor earlier in the series, the Magic played like Samson without his hair. But not this time. Led by Redick, the Magic closed out the quarter on a 16-5 run.”
  • Brian Schmitz of the Orlando Sentinel: “If there was any Magic player who actually would dare to offer shooting tips on his website, it had to be J.J. Redick. The way Magic players were misfiring jumpers during the series against the Hawks, they should have been taking advice — and taking out liability insurance. Redick does have an instructional shooting video on the market (“Better Basketball With J.J. Redick), and gives folks some pointers on his site in ‘J.J’s Shooting Drills.’ Redick, though, wasn’t exactly coming through as a company spokesman until it counted most — in Tuesday night’s elimination game. J.J. helped break the game open in the first quarter, hitting five straight baskets to ignite the wipe-out, the first a driving, reverse layup. [...] He finished making 6-of-8 shots for 14 points. He oddly found a way to beat the Hawks’ defense that hugged the 3-point line — J.J. didn’t take any. He relied more on pick-and-rolls and curl patterns to spring him free, shades of his Duke days.”
  • Mike Bianchi of the Orlando Sentinel: “With the Magic season hanging in the balance and the future of the franchise at stake, Orlando needed somebody to step up and help out Dwight Howard Tuesday. Guess what? Somebody didn’t step up. Everybody did. Howard scored 46 points and pulled down 19 rebounds in Game 1 and the Magic lost by 10. He had his worst statistical game of the series (8 points, 8 rebounds) Tuesday and the Magic won by 25. Go figure. J.J. Redick ignited the Magic by scoring 10 straight points at one juncture in the first half when Howard was on the bench with foul trouble. Jason Richardson returned from his one-game suspension to lead the team with 17 points. Gilbert Arenas was a major contributor yet again. And the Magic, who shot miserably from beyond the arc during the first three games of this series, hit 11-of-26 treys in Game 5.”
  • Zach McCann of the Orlando Sentinel: “The Orlando Magic played their best defensive game of the playoffs during Tuesday night’s 101-76 win over the Atlanta Hawks, holding the Hawks to a series-worst 36.2 shooting percentage and 76 points on 91 possessions. The Magic’s defense has held the Hawks in check for the most part in this series, but they took it to another level in Game 5, swarming the perimeter and protecting the rim almost flawlessly. The Hawks had very, very few easy baskets and seemingly had a Magic player crowding the ball at all times. Jamal Crawford and Joe Johnson — averaging a combined 44 points per game for the series coming into the game — scored just 13 total points on 20 percent shooting. It’s difficult to imagine the Magic playing much better on defense.”
  • John Denton of OrlandoMagic.com: “On a night when even the team’s mascot, Stuff, banked in a halfcourt shot during a timeout skit early in the game, the Orlando Magic finally found their shooting strokes from afar and breathed some life back into this best-of-seven series. The Magic battered Atlanta early and often by raining in 3-pointers from all corners of the Amway Center to win 101-76 going away in send-a-message style to the embarrassed Hawks. Orlando staved off elimination, pulled within 3-2 in the series and set the stage for what could be an epic Game 6 in Atlanta on Thursday night.”
  • Evan Dunlap of Orlando Pinstriped Post: “Tonight’s game represents what some folks expected might happen in this series: the Magic tear the Hawks apart with Howard inside and the three-point shooters outside, while Atlanta clanks jumper after jumper. That summation is a bit reductive, I admit, but when one considers the Magic’s convincing sweep of the Hawks last season, as well as the Hawks’ six-game losing skid to end the regular season and their negative point differential, it’s not too terribly far off the mark. But nobody could have counted on Orlando’s unbearably bad three-point shooting to date, even accounting for the Hawks’ fourth-ranked three-point defense. Nor could anyone have known Crawford would become the first reserve in six seasons to score 20-plus points in four straight games, or that Hedo Turkoglu would shoot worse than every volume-volume shooter since 1995. All those factors set the stage for the Magic fighting to stay alive Tuesday in just their fifth game this postseason.”
  • Michael Cunningham of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution: “After taking a beating from the Magic, the Hawks return to Atlanta facing familiar questions about how far they have really come. Down 3-1 in the series and facing elimination, the Magic struck back for a 101-76 victory at Amway Center. The Hawks still have home-court advantage and history on their side. They can win the series with a victory in Game 6 on Thursday at Philips Arena, and only eight of 194 NBA teams that have faced a 3-1 series deficit have rallied to win. But Tuesday the Hawks looked nothing like the focused, poised group that had won six of eight games against the Magic this season. The Hawks instead resembled the group that Orlando swept by an NBA-record margin of 101 points in the second round of the 2010 playoffs.”
  • Jeff Schultz of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution: “Remember these guys? This is what you feared. Not a game, but a cartoon. Not a loss, but four quarters of exploding body parts. For most of four playoff games against Orlando, we saw what the Hawks were capable of. Then we saw what we already knew they were capable of because they showed it all too often during their bipolar season. Before the game was half over Tuesday night, the Hawks trailed by 10, then 15, then 25, and then everybody pretty much stopped paying attention. Now the doubt is back in Atlanta, and the hope is back in Orlando.”
  • Bret LaGree of Hoopinion: “It’s just one game and some history still awaits the Hawks if they can win at home on Thursday or even in Orlando on Saturday but the chance to record an, if not outright impressive, at least a feel-good series victory likely passed them by tonight. The Hawks took bad shots, their head coach created foul trouble where none yet existed, that choice put an inferior defensive unit on the floor for long stretches of the first half, the Hawks fell way behind, and they tried to catch up by taking more bad shots. A familiar tale for the 2010-11 Hawks.”

Apr 26

Recap: Orlando Magic 101, Atlanta Hawks 76

Photo by J. Meric/Getty Images

BOX SCORE

Able to stave off elimination and avoid ending their season on their home court, the Orlando Magic were able to defeat the Atlanta Hawks by the score of 101-76 and force a Game 6 on Thursday on the road. One of the running narratives in the series has centered on the Magic’s three-point shooting, and how awful it’s been. Heading into Game 5, Orlando was shooting 21.8 percent from three-point range. Even though the Hawks deserve credit for being able to stymie the Magic’s army of three-point shooters, that’s still an abnormally low percentage and more of a statistical anomaly than anything else. During the regular season, Orlando shot 36.6 percent on threes and sooner or later, the odds of them regressing to the mean were high. The question was whether or not it’d be too late. Well, if the Game 5 result is any indication, the answer is no. The Magic shot 11-of-26 (42.3 percent) from three-point range and finally played up to their potential on both ends of the floor. Orlando was led by a balanced attack, as nine players scored seven points or more. Jason Richardson paced the starters with 17 points, returning from his Game 4 suspension and making a positive impact offensively. J.J. Redick stood out among the reserves with 14 points on eight shots in less than 20 minutes of playing time. It speaks volumes that the Magic were able to crush the Hawks by 25 points, given that Dwight Howard only had eight points and eight rebounds, but it says more so that the supporting cast was able to step up.

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Apr 26

Tuesday’s Magic Word

  • Josh Robbins of the Orlando Sentinel: “Orlando Magic coach Stan Van Gundy inadvertently disclosed his master plan for slowing the Atlanta Hawks tonight in Game 5 of the teams’ first-round playoff series. It involves Dwight Howard. ‘I don’t want to give away a big secret here before the game,’ Van Gundy told the media, ‘but he’s not going to get a lot of rest.’ Hey, at least Van Gundy has a sense of humor even with his team trailing three games to one and facing elimination. At the top of the Magic’s to-do list tonight: Shoot the ball better, defend the perimeter better and start much better than they have recently. ‘If we get one win, we’re gonna win the whole thing,’ Howard said. ‘We just need one win, stay confident, keep believing, just play hard for the 48 minutes. Usually when you do that great things happen.’ ”
  • Zach McCann of the Orlando Sentinel: “Gilbert Arenas put together his most memorable game as a member of the Orlando Magic Sunday night, scoring 20 points off the bench in the Magic’s 88-85 Game 4 loss to the Atlanta Hawks. He did the majority of his damage running high pick-and-rolls with Dwight Howard, scoring 15 points (7-of-13 shooting) in such situations. And a majority of those points came when attacking the hoop after using the screen. For Magic fans, it was a welcome sight to see someone besides Dwight Howard attacking the rim. He still lacks the explosiveness and jumping ability from early in his career, but at least he’s willing to go strong at the hoop to score or draw a foul. That’s a big reason why many fans are hoping to see more from Arenas tonight, even though they’ve been dogging the guy for the past five months. But things won’t be so easy for Arenas in tonight’s Game 5.”
  • Jason Richardson vows to be smarter on the court.
  • Eight teams in NBA history have recovered from a 3-1 series deficit and won.
  • Zach Lowe of The Point Forward: “A win Tuesday might not change the long-term picture for Howard, and it doesn’t necessarily mean GM Otis Smith was wrong to think the Jason Richardson/[Hedo] Turkgolu/Arenas combination might give the Magic a better chance to win it all this season. Marcin Gortat was always going to be a role player in Orlando, Vince Carter hasn’t exactly killed it in Phoenix, and Rashard Lewis was an injury-prone non-factor in Washington. They might have fit Stan Van Gundy’s system a little better than the guys the Magic received — Vince Carter can still work a pick-and-roll, and a healthy Lewis is probably better all around than his power forward replacements — but Orlando’s current situation might not be much different today had Smith declined the trades.”
  • John Schuhmann of NBA.com: “This isn’t the first time Collins has had success in defending Howard. In 591 career games in which he’s played at least 25 minutes (including postseason), his two lowest scoring games came against Collins and the Nets. Collins held Howard to two points on 1-for-5 shooting on March 13, 2005 and to one point on 0-for-6 shooting on Jan. 20, 2007. The Collins Effect goes beyond Howard’s numbers. By defending Howard one-on-one, Collins allows his teammates to stay at home on the perimeter. The Magic are shooting a league-low 29.1 percent from five feet or beyond in the postseason, and just 26.5 percent when Collins is on the floor. If the Magic are going to extend the series with a win tonight in Game 5 (7:30 p.m. ET, NBA TV), they’ll need to start making some shots. But that’s proven to be difficult with the Hawks’ no-stats MVP on the floor.”
  • Head coach Larry Drew is confident.
  • Austin Link of ESPN Insider: “Based off of their regular season shooting prowess, there was only about a 1-in-300 chance of the Magic shooting that poorly from 3-point land so far. Put another way, if Orlando had simply matched its regular season long ball form so far, it would be 42 points better in a series in which its overall scoring margin is only -11 points across all four games to date. If they can turn the shooting around and Howard continues to exert his influence, the Magic can not only get through the first round, but could even challenge the Chicago Bulls in the second. Right now we give the Magic only about 25 percent odds of a comeback, however, so the chances that they’ll get the opportunity to face the Bulls aren’t good.”
  • Jemele Hill of ESPN.com thinks Doc Rivers should replace Stan Van Gundy as head coach of the Orlando Magic: “As good a tactician as Van Gundy is, the Magic play like a team that can’t go any further under his direction. When Orlando traded for Jason Richardson, Hedo Turkoglu and Gilbert Arenas this season, the hope was that the new faces would spark a return run to the NBA Finals, where Orlando lost in five games to the Lakers two years ago. Instead, the Magic have flat-lined. Orlando’s flashes of brilliance have been undermined by even larger stretches of underachievement.”
  • John Hollinger of ESPN Insider: “You’d be excused for thinking Atlanta was the one with the better scoring margin based on the first four games of this series. The Hawks would already be prepping for the second round if not for some bizarre coaching choices in the second quarter of Game 2, thanks to a shockingly good defensive effort against the league’s 10th-best regular-season offense.”
  • Nate Drexler makes an appearance in ESPN.com’s 5-on-5 writer roundup.
  • The Magic and San Antonio Spurs share a lot of similar philosophies on both ends of the floor, which has allowed both franchises to be successful, but they’re close to reaching the end of the road in the 2011 NBA Playoffs much earlier than expected.

Apr 26

Preview: Atlanta Hawks at Orlando Magic, Game 5

7:30 EDT | NBA TV
44-38 @ 52-30
Pythagorean Record: 39-43 Pythagorean Record: 56-26
Pace: 89.3 (27th) Pace: 91.4 (17th)
Offensive Rating: 106.1 (20th) Offensive Rating: 107.7 (14th)
Defensive Rating: 107.0 (13th) Defensive Rating: 101.8 (3rd)
Amway Center | Hawks lead series 3-1
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