Archive for the ‘ OKC Thunder Blog ’ Category

Is Paul George’s long-term future with OKC? Or elsewhere, like perhaps in Los Angeles? That will remain a lingering question, certainly through the summer. Here’s the Norman Transcript reporting:

Paul George feels “a real brotherhood” with Russell Westbrook and Carmelo Anthony, he told ESPN’s Rachel Nichols in a sit-down interview, which aired Sunday.

Talk of the Los Angeles Lakers has surrounded the five-time All-Star, who will become a free agent at the end of this season. The Lakers are not only George’s hometown team. He also requested to be traded there when he informed the Indiana Pacers he would not be re-signing come 2018 free agency.

George has, however, been complimentary of the Oklahoma City Thunder since the team traded for him over the summer.

“I obviously would’ve loved to go home. That was ideal when it was that time,” George told Nichols. “But now, being here and playing alongside Russ, playing alongside Melo, I feel a real brotherhood with those guys. If we’re here right now, then where can we be next year? Where can we be the year after that?”

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Thunder giving up many 3-points lately

The Thunder defense is clearly not as good with Andre Roberson out. Here’s the Norman Transcript reporting on what’s been going on:

The Thunder have been allowing a bunch of 3-pointers all season, a reaction to personnel changes over the summer and to a 2016-17 defense which gave up a higher percentage of its field-goals allowed at the rim than any other team. The Thunder help more aggressively from the weak side now in an attempt to take away driving lanes. When the strategy isn’t executed well, it’s prone to allowing easier 3s.

The issues have become more exaggerated of late.

“I think it’s just player movement,” Paul George said. “That’s the element of defense that we’re struggling at, understanding guys are moving and causing us to move around.”

The Thunder have allowed 31.5 3-pointers per game over their past eight, up from their seasonal average. Even worse, opponents are making 12.9 of those a game, good for nearly 41 percent. The makes and the percentage are the NBA’s second-worst and fourth-worst figures, respectively, over that time.

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Andre Roberson out for rest of season

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The Thunder, who this season have relied primarily on defense to get their wins, will be without their main defensive stopper at the guard/forward spot, Andre Roberson, for the remainder of the season. Here’s the Norman Transcript reporting:

Oklahoma City Thunder shooting guard Andre Roberson underwent successful knee surgery Sunday, the team announced. The Thunder expect him to miss the remainder of the 2017-18 season.

Roberson ruptured his left patellar tendon during the third quarter of Saturday’s 121-108 win over the Detroit Pistons. The injury occurred when he planted his left leg awkwardly while trying to jump for an alley-oop from Russell Westbrook. Instead of receiving the ball and finishing the play, he flipped in the air and landed hard on his backside. After a few minutes on the ground with trainers and teammates around him, Roberson left the court on a stretcher.

The Thunder’s defensive stopper missed eight games because of left patellar tendinitis from Dec. 31 to Jan. 17. Rookie wing Terrance Ferguson started in his place during seven of those. Ferguson started once again Sunday against the Philadelphia 76ers. Roberson also received plasma injections in his knee during the offseason.

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DeMarcus Cousins has suffered a nasty injury that will end his season.

He’s on the Pelicans, a Western conference team.

So, his replacement on the Team LeBron 2018 NBA All-Star team has to be from the West as well.

Adam Silver has made his decision. It’ll be OKC Thunder forward Paul George.

For more info, read this: Paul George named NBA All-Star game injury replacement for DeMarcus Cousins

Russell Westbrook has been chosen as a reserve for this year’s NBA All-Star Game, the league announced Tuesday. With Paul George, Carmelo Anthony and Steven Adams falling short of making the team, Westbrook is the only Oklahoma City Thunder player to be named a reserve. No Thunder players will start.

This will be the seventh All-Star appearance of Westbrook’s career. The last time he missed out on the game, excluding his injury-ridden 2013-14, was during 2010, his second season.

Westbrook was averaging 24.8 points, 9.7 rebounds and a league-leading 10.1 assists heading into Tuesday night’s game against the Brooklyn Nets, bringing him close to a triple-double average for what would be a second consecutive season. He became the second player in NBA history to average a triple-double last year.

“If I make it, then that’ll be a blessing,” Westbrook said of All-Star last week. “If I don’t, then I’ll go on vacation with my family.”

Norman Transcript

Thunder score 148 points vs Cavs

The Thunder offense has been disappointing most of this season. But the Cavs defense has been absolutely miserable, and it only seems to be getting worse, at least via the eye test. With Kevin Love playing just three minutes due to illness, LeBron and the rest of the Cavs put up 124 points Saturday afternoon, yet still lost by 24. Here’s the Oklahoman reporting:

The third quarter started, and LeBron James, seeking an illustrious mark, was stuck on nine points.

James was isolated against Paul George — who was nearly a Cleveland player last summer until trade talks broke down between the Cavs and Pacers. George expertly stayed in front of the driving James, with him and Steven Adams meeting James at the rim. Another miss, James’ fourth within six feet of the rim.

Nothing came easy for the king in a 148-124 Thunder blowout.

James needed 25 points to become the seventh player in NBA history to reach 30,000 career points. Instead, James was subbed out with 6:37 left in the fourth quarter and the Thunder ahead by 26.

James finished with 18 points on 8-of-17 shooting, 0-of-4 from 3-point range.

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The Raptors are 23-9, which is the second best record in the Eastern conference. The Thunder are 19-15, tying them for the West’s 5th best winning percentage - though OKC are on a five-game winning streak and have been recently playing their best basketball of the season. The two teams battle tonight in OKC. It’s a matchup worth watching. Here’s the Norman Transcript reporting:

The Toronto Raptors have run through the Eastern Conference with a similar core and thus, a similar type of isolation-heavy offense over the past few years. But the Oklahoma City Thunder’s next opponent will look different than many fans might expect come Wednesday night.

Even with players like point guard Kyle Lowry and binge scorer DeMar DeRozan carrying over, the Raptors have implemented far more motion into their offense this year. They’re taking 36 percent fewer mid-range shots. And lately, DeRozan, who spent the first eight years of his career dominating on long 2s, has taken his success to the 3-point line. He’s hit 13 triples over the past three games.

It will be a special task for OKC defensive stopper Andre Roberson, who has guarded DeRozan well historically, but who will have to deal with a different type of player come Wednesday.

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The Thunder won on Sunday, against a vastly inferior opponent in the Mavericks. OKC did this without the services of center Steven Adams or forward Carmelo Anthony. Here’s the Oklahoman reporting:

Carmelo Anthony’s back had been bothering him, but not enough to miss a game.

That changed on Sunday, suddenly and late.

Less than an hour before the Thunder tipped off a 112-99 win against the Dallas Mavericks, Oklahoma City announced Anthony would sit with back soreness. Thunder coach Billy Donovan said he didn’t know until about an hour before tip that Anthony would be out.

“The one thing I really admire about Melo is, he loves to play,” Donovan said after the game. “Even for a guy that’s been in the league in his 15th year, he loves to play. He went through the walk-through. He tried to do everything he could to get himself to play.”

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Logic suggested that the Thunder, who boast three offensive stars, would be better offensively than defensively. But through these first three weeks of the regular season, it’s been the reverse. Here’s the Oklahoman with more:

The focus came right away, to hear the Thunder tell it.

It had assembled this offseason as a collection of big-name offensive talent — Paul George, Carmelo Anthony, Russell Westbrook — but its fresh start had been focused on stops.

There was, the Thunder say, a defensive mindset from day one…

Statistically, the Thunder ranks among the NBA’s best defensive teams. It allows 97.6 points per 100 possessions, the second-best mark in the league. No team gives up fewer points in the paint than the Thunder’s 37.6 per game.

But there have been signs of slippage in the past two games, losses to Boston and Portland in which OKC has allowed 103.6 points per 100 possessions.

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Here’s a fun item on Thunder forward Carmelo Anthony, who has brought to OKC a catch-phrase he apparently yells each time he grabs a rebound. And amusing comments from joke-cracking teammate Steven Adams. The Norman Transcript reports:

Carmelo Anthony’s rebounding has gone viral — and it’s not because of the quality of his boarding.

Anthony has developed a catch phrase: every time he corrals a missed shot, he screams “Get the [expletive] out of here!” It’s loud enough that the microphone on to the rim often picks up the sound.

“I’ve been doing it for a long time,” he said. “I think now it’s just coming with the whole mindset thing, focus, that motivation to want to get that on the rebound attempt and being aggressive on the glass and just kind of motivating myself.”

Of course, Thunder center Steven Adams, who has never, ever cursed in his whole life, has stronger thoughts on Anthony’s on-court profanities.

“I let him get [the rebound]. He doesn’t have to say those harsh words,” Adams said of Anthony calling him off for boards. “He doesn’t have to talk like that, mate…It’s a bit mean. I thought we were on good terms.”

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The Oklahoma City Thunder has signed guard PJ Dozier to a two-way contract, it was announced Tuesday by Executive Vice President and General Manager Sam Presti.

In two seasons at South Carolina, Dozier (6-6, 205) appeared in 70 games (64 starts) and averaged 10.4 points, 3.9 rebounds, 2.4 assists and 1.34 steals in 24.0 minutes per game.

During the 2017 NCAA Tournament, Dozier averaged 12.3 points, 4.8 rebounds and 2.9 assists per game as he helped the Gamecocks clinch their first Final Four berth in school history.

Starting in the 2017-18 season, each team is allowed two players on two-way contracts, in addition to the standard 15 players on the roster. Players on two-way contracts spend most of the season in the NBA G League, but can be called up to their NBA team for a maximum of 45 days.

Thunder waive Isaiah Canaan, Semaj Christon, Chris Wright and Yannis Morin

The Oklahoma City Thunder waived guards Isaiah Canaan and Semaj Christon along with center Yannis Morin and forward Chris Wright, the team’s Executive Vice President and General Manager Sam Presti announced.

Canaan saw action in three preseason games with the Thunder and averaged 5.7 points, 2.0 assists and 1.3 rebounds in 12.8 minutes.

Christon appeared in two preseason games for Oklahoma City where he averaged 3.5 points and 2.0 rebounds in 17.0 minutes. Last season, he appeared in 64 games (one start) for the Thunder and averaged 2.9 points, 2.0 assists and 1.4 rebounds in 15.2 minutes.

Morin and Wright were originally signed on Oct. 11.

The Oklahoma City Thunder have signed center Yannis Morin and forward Chris Wright, Executive Vice President and General Manager Sam Presti announced today.

Morin (6-10, 210) played five games (one start) with the Thunder in the 2017 Orlando Pro Summer League and averaged 2.2 points and 4.0 rebounds in 13.5 minutes per game. He spent the 2016-17 season with Le Havre in France, where he appeared in 37 games (28 starts) and averaged 6.8 points, 7.4 rebounds, 1.84 blocks and 1.00 steal in 24.5 minutes per game.

The center played five total seasons in France, spending three seasons with Cholet Basket and one season each with Denain ASC Voltaire and Le Havre.

Wright (6-8, 226) was a member of the Oklahoma City Blue during the 2016-17 season. He appeared in 20 games (four starts) and averaged 9.9 points, 4.2 rebounds, 1.4 assists and 1.35 steals in 21.9 minutes per game.

The Ohio native previously appeared in 32 NBA games with the Milwaukee Bucks and Golden State Warriors and averaged 3.7 points and 2.0 rebounds in 9.8 minutes per contest.

The Oklahoma City Thunder has waived guards Bryce Alford and Markel Brown and forward Rashawn Thomas, it was announced today by Executive Vice President and General Manager Sam Presti.

Alford, Brown and Thomas, originally signed on Sept. 25, did not appear in a game this preseason.

The Thunder are now built around Russell Westbrook, Paul George and Carmelo Anthony. (With major support from Steven Adams, but he’s for another blog entry.) Each player brings serious game, and all three will have to make changes in the way they play in order to compliment each other and the squad as a whole. There will be bumps in the road. It’ll be great to watch the chemistry develop. Here’s the Norman Transcript with more:

Three players who don’t know each other’s habits, preferences and niches can’t complement each other as well as three who do. And as the Thunder approach Tuesday’s preseason finale at Denver, they’re still in the beginning stages of trying to learn about each other.

“[We need] just a better flow offensively. Again, we’re really talented offensively,” George said. “We have so many weapons. If we can get clicking and going faster and going into the regular season, if we can start to get that rhythm and momentum going early, then we’ll be in good shape.”

Of course, a slow start, especially during the preseason, is to be expected. Immediate chemistry would be impossible without telepathy. George, Anthony and Westbrook, meanwhile, have run together for only four total quarters over the first three exhibitions.

At times, it’s looked awkward.

George has appeared most effective during the stretches at the beginning of the third quarters of games No. 1 and 2 when both Anthony and Westbrook were on the bench. He spent those moments flying off screens, creating space for himself and sending defenses into a frenzy. It’s one of the best parts of his game. It’s also something Westbrook isn’t used to seeing.

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The Oklahoma City Thunder has signed guard Russell Westbrook to a multi-year contract extension, it was announced today by Thunder Executive Vice President and General Manager Sam Presti.

“Russell represents everything we could have ever hoped for when building a basketball team for Oklahoma City,” said Thunder Chairman Clayton I. Bennett. “His character, integrity and relentless drive have been a great unifier that has deeply and positively affected the spirit of our fans inside our arena, in our classrooms and in our neighborhoods. We recognize and deeply appreciate Russell’s rare and unique abilities as he leads the Oklahoma City Thunder, but also understand his presence and impact on our community will be felt for decades to come. On behalf of the entire Thunder organization, our ownership group and all of Oklahoma, I want to express my deepest appreciation to Russell and I know that the very best days for the Thunder are yet to come.”

According to the Oklahoman, “the Thunder guard agreed to a five-year contract extension Friday that will keep him in Oklahoma City through the 2022-23 season. The extension is the largest in NBA history, estimated at $205 million over five years. His average salary ($38.8 million) over the length of the total six years he’s under contract is projected to eclipse that of former teammate James Harden ($38 million).”

This past season, Westbrook was named the 2016-17 Kia NBA Most Valuable Player after becoming just the second player in NBA history to average a triple-double. Westbrook established a new NBA record with 42 triple-doubles while averaging a league-best 31.6 points, 10.7 rebounds (10th in the NBA), 10.4 assists (third in the NBA) and 1.63 steals in 34.6 minutes per game. He earned All-NBA first team honors for the second time in his career.

“Russell’s commitment to the Thunder organization since its inception in 2008 has helped propel us to great heights and stare down great challenges over our first decade,” said Presti. “We are extremely fortunate to have an athlete, competitor and person such as Russell wear the Thunder uniform. To have him cement his legacy as a leader as we enter into our 10th season in Oklahoma City is extraordinary. I am extremely grateful to Russell, his family and to our ownership for the commitment and support that they have demonstrated in supporting our vision for the Thunder.”

The six-time All-Star and two-time All-Star game MVP recorded triple-doubles in seven consecutive games on two separate occasions this past season (11/25-12/9 and 3/22-4/4), to become the first player in NBA history to accomplish the feat. He was named Western Conference Player of the Month for November and February and earned Western Conference Player of the Week honors four times.

“I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again, there is no place I would rather be than Oklahoma City,” said Westbrook. “I am so honored to have the opportunity to continue my career here with the Thunder. From day one the support that Mr. Bennett, Sam, Troy and the entire organization have given me and my family has been incredible, and we are so grateful. When you play in Oklahoma City you play in front of the best fans in the world, I’m looking forward to bringing everything I’ve got, for them, this city and for this organization. WHY NOT?”

Originally selected by Oklahoma City with the fourth overall pick in the 2008 NBA Draft, Westbrook has helped guide the Thunder to the postseason in seven of the last nine seasons. During that time Oklahoma City has advanced to the Western Conference Finals four times and the NBA Finals once. The Thunder is one of three NBA franchises (Houston and San Antonio) to have finished the regular season with a .500 or better record in each of the last eight seasons.

The UCLA product owns career averages of 22.7 points, 7.9 assists, 6.2 rebounds, 1.73 steals and 34.1 minutes in 668 games (651 starts). Westbrook won a gold medal in 2012 as a member of the United States Olympic team that went a perfect 8-0 during Olympic competition.

Last season it felt like Russell Westbrook was the lone big difference-maker on his entire Thunder team. But now? If he looks left, Carmelo Anthony is there. To his right? Paul George. Now, surely you’re saying, “Hey InsideHoops, what if Melo and Paul George switch places?” Well then, you’re right. Westbrook will have to look different directions to see those dudes. But they’re still be there. Because they’re his teammates now. Quit trying to derail the point. Anyway, as for Westbrook’s future with OKC, here’s the Norman Transcript reporting:

Russell Westbrook looked like he was about to evade a question regarding his unsigned extension before coming back around to answering — kind of.

“Like I said before, man, this is a place I want to be,” Westbrook said at Oklahoma City Thunder media day. “I love being here. I’m excited about the season, obviously, with a lot of new changes.”

The Thunder offered Westbrook a five-year extension worth more than $200 million July 1. It would kick in for the start of the 2018-19 season and go through 2022-23. He still hasn’t signed it. Monday offered the first chance for him to comment on the situation since general manager Sam Presti officially placed the offer in front of him.

Westbrook has until Oct. 16 to sign the extension. If he doesn’t finalize it by then, he can become a free agent this summer along with fellow Thunder stars Paul George and Carmelo Anthony. And his reason for not inking the deal so far seems to be merely that he’s been busy.

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The Oklahoma City Thunder signed guards Bryce Alford, Markel Brown, Isaiah Canaan and forward Rashawn Thomas.

Until we hear otherwise, we will assume the signings are only for training camp.

Alford (6-3, 185) spent four years at UCLA, leaving as the school’s No. 5 all-time leading scorer with 1,922 career points. He set UCLA’s career record for most three-pointers made (329), eclipsing a record previously set by Jason Kapono (317 three-pointers from 2000-03). In his career, Alford appeared in 141 total games and averaged 13.6 points and 3.8 assists per game.

Brown (6-3, 190) spent the 2016-17 season in Russia with BC Khimki, playing in 32 games and averaging 5.2 points, 2.6 rebounds and 1.0 assist. The Oklahoma State product spent two seasons with the Brooklyn Nets and appeared in 109 games (35 starts) and averaged 5.3 points, 2.1 rebounds and 1.2 assists.

Canaan (6-0, 201) is a four-year NBA veteran, having spent the 2016-17 season with the Chicago Bulls. In 185 games (60 starts) with the Bulls, Houston Rockets and Philadelphia 76ers, he averaged 8.1 points, 1.8 rebounds and 1.6 assists.

Thomas (6-8, 230) concluded his collegiate career with Texas A&M Corpus Christi as the all-time leading scorer (2,034 points). The Oklahoma City native was named the 2015-16 Southland Conference Defensive Player of the Year and First Team All-Southland.

The Carmelo Anthony era in New York is officially over.

The Knicks acquired center Enes Kanter, forward Doug McDermott and Chicago’s 2018 second-round draft pick from the Oklahoma City Thunder in exchange for Anthony today.

“This is a deal we feel works for both this franchise and Carmelo. We thank him for his seven seasons in a Knicks uniform and all that he accomplished off the court for the City of New York by using his platform to address social issues,” President Steve Mills said. “We will continue to focus on this team looking forward towards the immediate and long-term future. As we have said recently, this is a new beginning for the New York Knicks.”

“We are thrilled to welcome Carmelo to Oklahoma City and the Thunder organization,” said Thunder Executive Vice President and General Manager Sam Presti. “In addition to his skill level, experience, and unique talents, Carmelo is another high character, professional player for our roster.”

Anthony, (6-8, 240) a 10-time All-Star and 14-year NBA veteran joins the Thunder having appeared in 976 career games (all starts) while averaging 24.8 points, 6.6 rebounds, 3.1 assists and 1.06 steals in 36.2 minutes.

Anthony currently ranks 25th on the NBA’s all-time scoring list (24,156 points) and he is one of six players in league history (alongside Kobe Bryant, Vince Carter, LeBron James, Dirk Nowitzki and Paul Pierce) to record 24,000 points, 6,000 rebounds, 2,500 assists, 1,000 steals and 1,000 3-point field goals.

Anthony led the NBA in scoring during the 2012-13 season (28.7 points per game) and during the 2009-10 season, he became the third youngest player in NBA history to reach the 12,000-point plateau (behind LeBron James and Kobe Bryant).

A three-time Olympic gold medalist, Anthony is the United States Olympic Men’s National Team’s all-time leading scorer. After winning Gold in Rio de Janeiro, Anthony was named the 2016 Basketball Co-Male Athlete of the Year.

Originally selected by the Denver Nuggets with the third overall pick in the 2003 NBA Draft, Anthony helped lead Syracuse to a National Championship during his freshman season in which he was named the Final Four’s Most Outstanding Player.

Kanter, 6-11, 245-pounds, is a six-year NBA veteran who holds career averages of 11.3 points and 6.7 rebounds in 445 games played for Utah and Oklahoma City. In 72 games for the Thunder last season, the 25-year-old Switzerland native averaged 14.3 points and 6.7 rebounds, while recording the second-most point-rebound double-doubles in the NBA off the bench with 18.

McDermott, 6-8, 225-pounds, is a three-year NBA who holds career averages of 8.0 points in 183 games played for Chicago and Oklahoma City. In 66 games for the Bulls and Thunder last season, the 25-year-old Grand Forks, ND native averaged 9.0 points and 22.8 minutes.

“We acquired two 25-year-old players in this deal that we can develop, while sticking with our overall strategy of emphasizing youth and athleticism. With this trade, we have added scoring and aggressiveness to our frontcourt, and bolstered the team’s perimeter shooting,” Knicks General Manager Scott Perry said. “We are glad to have finalized a trade that made sense for all of us.”

The Oklahoma City Thunder have announced its 2017-18 regular-season schedule. The team will start its 10th season on Thursday, Oct. 19, at home versus New York, followed by a road contest at Utah on Saturday, Oct. 21.

Regionally, 70 of the Thunder’s 82 regular-season games will be broadcast on FOX Sports Oklahoma, which reaches viewers in Oklahoma, Arkansas, Kansas, Missouri and Nebraska. All games can be heard via the Thunder Radio Network, led by flagship station WWLS-The Sports Animal (98.1 FM) in Oklahoma City.

Oklahoma City is scheduled to appear on national television at least 36 times during the 2017-18 season. ABC will feature the Thunder on six occasions, TNT 12 times and ESPN nine times. NBA TV will also feature the Thunder on at least nine occasions during the regular season.

The Thunder will play 19 home weekend dates comprised of 10 Fridays, one Saturday and eight Sundays. Six of the eight Sunday contests will be played at 6 p.m., while the Thunder contest versus the 76ers on Jan. 28 will start at 5 p.m. and its Feb. 4 matchup with the L.A. Lakers commencing at 1 p.m.

As previously announced, Oklahoma City will play on Christmas Day for the eighth straight season and third consecutive at home when it welcomes Houston to Chesapeake Energy Arena on Monday, Dec. 25. For the 10th time, the Thunder will be at home on the final night of the year when Dallas visits Oklahoma City on Sunday, Dec. 31. The Thunder will host the Kings in a 2 p.m. matinee on Martin Luther King Day, Monday, Jan. 15.

The Thunder month-by-month breakdown includes seven games in October (three home, four road), 13 games in November (six home, seven road), 17 games in December (11 home, six away), 14 games in January (six home, eight road), 12 games in February (five home, seven road), 14 games in March (eight home, six road) and five games in April (two home, three road).

Oklahoma City’s schedule includes six three-game road trips, with three lasting five days away from home. The club will also compete in seven one-game and eight two-game trips, including its first-ever contest in Mexico City versus Brooklyn on Thursday, Dec. 7. The game counts as a home game for the Nets.

The Thunder will compete in 14 back-to-back sets during the 2017-18 season, consisting of four road/road, five home/road and five road/home back-to-backs.

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