Posted by: Jeremy | February 26, 2011

VC saves his last good game for us, naturally

Carter did all the damage necessary in the first quarter, scoring 11 of his 17 points

Yeah, yeah…Vince was good and the Raptors are back to being brutal after one night of glory earlier this week. Carter scored 11 of his 17 points in the first quarter last night, helping Phoenix jump to a 21-point lead in a game it won easily, 110-92. VC sat the entire fourth quarter, doing his work in just 30 minutes but still managing six steals, which was one off his career-high.

Toronto strung together arguably the worst 12-minute stretch in NBA history last night, falling behind 35-14 after one. The closest it got was within 12 early in the third quarter, but a Suns timeout was enough to turn things around, stretch the score back out and ensure the Raptors never had a shot. Steve Nash had 11 assists, Marcin Gortat matched Carter with 17 off the bench and Channing Frye nailed three triples en route to 16 points. Andrea Bargnani had 26 points on 12-of-15 for Toronto, but again grabbed just four boards and failed to clog the middle, giving Carter a season’s worth of alley-oops and drives in the opening quarter alone.

So yeah, I was off with my call of Carter being done. Well, at least he’s got something left in the tank for the ACC faithful. But what does that say about a guy when he’s only willing to turn it on when he’s facing a building packed with people that hate his guts? I guess we already knew all that about Vince anyway, though.

The loss drops Toronto to 16-43, including an 11-19 mark at home. Dirk Nowitzki and the Mavs are in next, with a tip scheduled for six on Sunday.

Posted by: Jeremy | February 25, 2011

Welcome back, Vince

Some kind of season you're having, VC

Do I consider Vince Carter a friend? No. Do I consider him an acquaintance? No. Do I like him? No. If his truck broke down in a snowstorm and mine was running fine, would I pick him up? No. Carter comes to town tonight for the first time as a member of the Phoenix Suns, and even Steve Nash being in the building isn’t likely to dull the usual cat calls that still come more than six years after VC’s unceremonious departure.

Carter’s career started going down the drain a few years ago in New Jersey already, and after a further slip in Orlando last season, has almost completely fallen off the map since the deal that landed him in the desert in December. Vince saw his scoring numbers dip from 20.8 with the Nets to 16.6 with the Magic in 2009-10, and after averaging 15.1 points in 22 games with Orlando this season, has seen it drop to 13.9 with Phoenix in 22 outings. In nine games this month, he’s averaged 10.7, 3.1 rebounds and 1.7 assists. He was even dropped in my fantasy league this week, and believe me, the guys in my league know basketball.

The sad thing is, Carter probably loves that people like myself from Toronto are writing this about him. He’s torched us a handful of times at Air Canada Centre since being dealt and just might do it again tonight. But probably not. I’m convinced he’s done, or at least that he’s too out of touch to even realize he used to play for the Raptors. We’ll see, though.

The Raptors and Suns tip at seven.

Posted by: Jeremy | February 24, 2011

Like a brick

There's a .06% chance this shot went down

Chris Bosh shot 1-of-18 tonight for the NBA’s worst single game field goal percentage since 1974. Oh yeah, and his Miami Heat lost to the same Bulls team that Toronto beat last night.

Sure, the Raptors are 16-42 and Bosh is doing fine, was an All-Star and still has a shot at winning a championship each of the next five years. But we’ll always have February 24, 2011. You really, really sucked tonight, CB.

Posted by: Jeremy | February 24, 2011

New looks

It was a busy offseason in Toronto, even if Rajai Davis was the Jays' biggest pickup

Spring Training is still pretty nice, assuming you’re not Adam Wainwright and the St. Louis Cardinals. Games haven’t quite gotten underway, but February workouts are in full force. Check out the gallery on my Facebook page for a look at some new faces in new places.

Posted by: Jeremy | February 24, 2011

Oh, it wasn’t done…

Perkins was one of another handful of players dealt in surprise moves Thursday

Plenty more to report on the NBA trade front, and with the deadline passed, it’s pretty safe to print it without any new deals trumping it within the next hour.

The biggest post-Baron Davis deal to go down involved Boston and Oklahoma City, with the Celtics sending Kendrick Perkins and Little Nate Robinson to the Thunder for Jeff Green and Nenad Kristic. Again, a pretty unexpected move, especially with Boston’s frontcourt injury problems, but with Perkins turning down a contract extension a few weeks ago and his left knee flaring up a month after returning from surgery on the other, a deal must have seemed necessary to Danny Ainge and friends. The Celtics get a fine chip back in Green, who was a solid third option behind Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook and should lend a hand at both forward positions off the bench in Boston. Second-year man James Harden likely fills out the Thunder’s starting lineup and ups his scoring punch in Green’s place.

Elsewhere, the Blazers picked up their next injury victim, grabbing Gerald Wallace off the Bobcats for Joel Przybilla, Dante Cunningham and a pair of first round draft picks. Wallace is athletic, versatile and prone to sitting out extended periods of time with a variety of ailments, so he’s the perfect sidekick to Brandon Roy and Greg Oden in Portland. In 48 games in Charlotte this year, he averaged 15.6 points, 8.2 rebounds and over a steal and block per game.

Houston also made a pair of moves, sending Aaron Brooks, who averaged 19.6 points last season but has been horrendous in 2010-11, to Phoenix for Goran Dragic and a first round pick. The Rockets also traded Shane Battier back to Memphis Hasheem “Chocolate Darko” Thabeet and another first round pick. According to reports, the Grizzlies also had a deal on the table with Indiana that included O.J. Mayo taking his Tony Allen debt to Indiana for Josh McRoberts and a pick, but the deal either fell through or didn’t get approval in time.

Cleveland also made a small move in addition to the Williams-for-Davis swap, picking up Luke Harangody and Semih Erden from Boston for a second round pick. This one confuses me a bit, since Erden is generally regarded as a promising young big and would seem to be of use in Boston with Perkins gone. Not sure if it had to do with salaries, but he’s officially headed to the shitshow known as the Cavaliers.

Posted by: Jeremy | February 24, 2011

Davis, Williams the latest point guards on the move

Davis' first reaction upon hearing of the trade was to tackle Mo Williams to the ground

Five days ago, Baron Davis was tossing alley-oops to Blake Griffin out of the sun roof of a Kia. As of this morning, he’s taking his talents to scenic Cleveland. The Clippers are the latest on the NBA’s trade scene, dumping their overpriced and underskilled point guard on the Cavs for Mo Williams and Jamario Moon. Cleveland also gets Los Angeles’ first round pick in June’s draft, which figures to be a top 10.

Like the Deron Williams deal yesterday, this one came with little warning, mainly because the two years and $28 million remaining on Davis’ contract was generally believed to be untradeable. Don’t expect this one to sit too well with Davis either, considering he was just starting to find his niche alongside Griffin and actually chose to sign with the Clippers to bolster his film career, which no one’s really heard anything about since he made that Step Brothers short with Steve Nash a few years ago. Oh yeah, and going to play in Cleveland for the worst team in history with a coach he hates isn’t likely to dull the pain.

Williams has a pair of player options following this season, so there’s no guarantee he’ll stick in Los Angeles and Moon is off the book in two months, meaning the Clippers save a load of money that would’ve otherwise been wasted with Davis on the roster a couple more seasons. It’s no big deal for Griffin either, considering he can catch a lob from just about anyone and Kia’s aren’t actually approved for in-game use anyway. Oh yeah, and that dunk was stupidly overrated as well.

The trade deadline rolls around at 3 pm, and with some of the unexpected moves that have already gone down, you may wanna stay tuned.

Posted by: Jeremy | February 23, 2011

Raps hold off Chicago, pleasantly surprise the world

James Johnson made the most of an awkward situation, scoring nine points to help lead Toronto over the team that traded him yesterday

Every now and then, the Raptors come along, shock the world and leave me thinking the future may not be all that dim after all. One of those nights was tonight, when Toronto rolled back into town off a pounding in Charlotte and clawed out a 118-113 win against Derrick Rose and the Bulls. The Raptors battled back after a slow start, grabbed a late lead and held off Chicago, even after letting what looked like a safe edge slip away with less than three minutes to go.

Toronto led 107-100 before Rose drew a pair of fouls and hit four straight free throws, and a Jose Calderon turnover and Rose three tied things with 1:59 remaining. DeMar DeRozan and Rose each traded four points to tie it at 111-111 with 1:05 to go, but a pair of DeRozan free throws and an Amir Johnson basket following a Rose miss was enough to put it to bed. DeRozan had 24 points, making all eight of his foul shots, and Rose finished with 32 and 11 assists, including 19 points in the fourth quarter alone.

The Raptors shot 58% from the field and scored 63 points in the second half, getting 24 from Andrea Bargnani in addition to DeRozan’s output. Jose Calderon had six points, 17 assists and three steals, Amir Johnson had 17 on 8-of-8 shooting and Leandro Barbosa scored nine of his 13 points in the fourth. James Johnson, who was acquired from the Bulls for Miami’s first round pick yesterday, got the suprise start and had nine points, five boards and three blocks against the team he woke up yesterday a member of.

Wins in February usually aren’t much to look back on when you’re on track to win less than 25 games, but one against Chicago on the tail end of a back-t0-back is a feather in the Raptors’ cap nonetheless. They’ll look for some of the momentum to carry over to Friday, when Steve Nash and VC25 come to town with the Phoenix Suns.

Posted by: Jeremy | February 23, 2011

Tommy John claims his latest victim, likely

Cardinals fans may not be seeing Wainwright on the mound anytime soon

Have I mentioned this week how much I love Spring Training? Oh, the optimism that comes with 162 games remaining and everyone tied for first place, including the Kansas City Royals and Pittsburgh Pirates. Well, that optimism lost some of its lustre in St. Louis: If the Albert Pujols contract distraction wasn’t enough to put a damper on things, word out of Cardinals camp today is that Adam Wainwright is heading home with a “significant elbow injury”, and according to general manager John Mozeliak, the outlook isn’t good. The injury was reportedly suffered Monday in bullpen session.

The way pitchers are dropping to elbow injuries these days, the first thing that comes to mind anytime one falls to something even slightly significant is Tommy John surgery. To quote Chuck Swirsky, “I’m no doctor”, but this isn’t looking all that good for Wainwright and the fine folks of St. Louis. It’s a shame, too, because Wainwright is one of the beasliest starters in of all baseball, going 20-11 with a 2.42 ERA in 230 innings last season, including a 12-3 and 1.78 mark at Busch Stadium.

As mentioned, Wainwright is on his way back to St. Louis, where he’ll be examined by team doctors before getting word whether or not he’ll get a nice little 12-to-18 month break from game action.

Posted by: Jeremy | February 23, 2011

Nice, though Morris Peterson could do it in his sleep

Hey, when you’re good, you’re good. Not that Dwyane Wade is that good though, considering he needs to team up with LeBron James and RuPaul Bosh, or if you wanna go back a few years, Shaquille O’Neal, to make his team respectable. Either way, when you’re playing for Miami and home to the Sacramento Kings, you have to figure you’re gonna come out with some results.

Posted by: Jeremy | February 23, 2011

Nets bounce back, grab Williams from Utah

Williams and Harris are swapping places in the NBA's latest blockbuster

New Jersey may have lost the Carmelo Anthony sweepstakes, but according to ESPN.com, it just landed itself another star. According to the report, Deron Williams is a Net, with Devin Harris and 2010 lottery pick Derrick Favors heading to Utah to make it work. Jerry Sloan may think Williams is a jackass, but he’s still a mighty fine point guard.

After all the Anthony fanfare of the past few months, this deal came with none — Mikhael Prokorhov and Jay-Z didn’t have to wine and dine Williams over the All-Star Break and better yet, didn’t have to give up nearly as much as they’d have needed to get Carmelo. Sure, Anthony is a sexier pickup, but in six years in the league Williams has proven just as capable of being the type of winner to build around. He brings career averages of 17.3 points and 9.1 assists per game to the table, helping carry the Jazz to 50-plus win seasons three of the past four seasons. This year, he’s averaging a career-high 21.3 points and pitching in 9.7 assists.

Though the price is a bit lower than what they’d be paying for Anthony, New Jersey still parted with a pricy package, which reportedly includes a pair of first round picks and $3 million. Harris, though, proved expendable the past two seasons after an All-Star year in 2008-09, seeing big statiscal dropoffs and doing little to fend off a dreadful 12-70 season in 2009-10. At 17-40 this year, it was pretty evident change was needed, both for Harris and the Nets. Favors proved solid if unspectacular in New Jersey, averaging 6.3 points and 5.3 rebounds in 56 games.

So, make it two huge deals in less than two days in the NBA. Can we get one of our esteemed Canadian sports channels covering this stuff around the clock like they do the hockey deadline? Plenty more to come, or so we can hope.

Posted by: Jeremy | February 23, 2011

The beginning of an era, where the Knicks may even be good

Anthony got his wish, and he's taking Billups to New York with him

I dodged it other than a slight reference in my Raptors recap from last night, but I’m sure you’re aware by now if you’re a basketball fan: Carmelo Anthony is a New York Knick. Yep, the Melodrama is over, and that’s just one of a handful of overused puns you can use to describe the swap, assuming the New York media didn’t beat you to the punch.

The Knicks gave up a package for Anthony and Chauncey Billups that looks pretty large on paper, but considering they’re still just a slightly-above .500 team at 26-24 even with their little renaissance this year, the group heading to Denver shouldn’t set New York back for long. Yeah, it stings a little considering there was a shot Carmelo would be out there as a free agent this summer, but with New Jersey and a potential lockout lurking, the risk of missing him altogether was enough to not pull the trigger. As a result, Raymond Felton, Danilo Gallinari, Wilson Chandler and Timofey Mozgov all are heading to the Western Conference, with Mozgov and Gallinari earning the chance to be Blake Griffin’s poster boys four times a year instead of just two.

In Anthony, the Knicks are getting one of the NBA’s prime superstars, though that doesn’t mean he’s all set to gel with Amar’e Stoudemire, at least not  off the bat. The real difference maker in the deal might be Billups, who had had an immediate impact in Denver upon being traded from Detroit for Allen Iverson two years ago, a deal that helped make the Nuggets arugably the Western Conference’s second-best team before Anthony started getting all emotional and wanting out. Also coming to New York is Shelden Williams and his larger-than-life head, which is presumably a result of drinking the same tonic Ken Griffey Jr. was hooked on in the greatest Simpsons episode of all-time.

Assuming all the physicals turn out as plannego well, Anthony and Billups will make their Knicks debut tonight at Madison Square Garden, where New York hosts the Milwaukee Bucks. If you’re in Manhattan and wanna check it out, you still may be able to get upper bowl tickets for $200 on StubHub.

Posted by: Jeremy | February 23, 2011

Raptors get back in the business of getting crushed

Wallace scored 20 in another Charlotte romp over the Raptors

Maybe one day an NBA superstar will demand a trade and say he’ll only play in Toronto. We sure need it right now, because the Raptors really, really suck these days. The second half of the season started just how the first ended, with Toronto handed a 114-101 pounding at the hands of the Mighty Bobcats of Charlotte.

It was another uninspired all-around effort on the road for the Raptors, who coughed up 61 points to Charlotte in the first half — the most the Bobcats have scored in the opening 24 minutes this season — and trailed by 17 heading into the locker room. That was about the time I abondoned the project for some court surfing courtesy of The Score, so don’t ask me exactly how things went on from that point forward.

Here’s something I did witness, though: Plenty more brutal play from the darling of the Jarrett Jack trade, Jerryd Bayless. Is there a point guard in the NBA less deserving of the minutes he gets? Bayless coughed up the ball four times in what seemed like his first four possessions of the game, and though the stat line tells me he finished with 11 points and 10 assists, he managed to do it by missing each of his four field goal attempts, making it three straight games and four of five without a make. Bryan Colangelo better think about locking up Jose Calderon on another five-year deal before making Bayless the team’s point guard of the future.

Toronto’s game-high came from Sonny Weems, who scored 19 points on 9-of-13 shooting and added four boards. Andrea Bargnani had 18 and eight, DeMar DeRozan had 14 and Jose Calderon had six points and 11 assists. D.J. Augustin led five Charlotte scorers in double digits with 23 and Gerald Wallace had 20.

The Raptors won’t have much time to recover, with Derrick Rose and the Bulls at the ACC for a game Wednesday. It’s the opener of a four-game homestand, though none of the bunch look too winnable at the moment — after the Bulls, Phoenix is in Friday, Dallas on Saturday and sharp-shooting zero-to-hero Marco Belinelli and New Orleans on Tuesday.

Posted by: Jeremy | February 22, 2011

DeRozan has had it with these prop jams

If Darryl Dawkins had come up with some cool prop dunks, we wouldn't be talking about this

DeMar DeRozan may be pretty quiet on the court and have the boringest feed on all of Twitter, but that doesn’t mean he won’t speak his mind every now and then. Fresh off getting snubbed in Saturday’s dunk contest, he made his feelings known during media availabity this afternoon in prep for tonight’s game in Charlotte.

“I’m a dunker,” he said. “Dunk contests, you go out there and dunk. I’m not into all the props and everything.”

So, a shot at Blake Griffin’s car hop, JaVale McGee’s double basket and Serge Ibaka’s awkward toy rescue? It sure sounds like it, as well as a shot at the judges and anyone out there that appreciates that kind of thing. Either way, he’s done with garbage like that.

“If there’s a dunk contest next year I’ll do it, but not no prop contest,” DeRozan added.

Credit to the soft-spoken kid for letting be known what we’re all thinking. Think the NBA was gonna let Griffin not advance to the final, knowing well he had a Kia, “the official car of the NBA”, all set to jump over? So yeah, the contest was both a prop contest and fixed.

As for DeRozan’s actual prop-free dunks, here’s a closer look at the second in slow motion. Enjoy it in all its beauty:

Posted by: Jeremy | February 21, 2011

Kobe doin’ work

Kobe went to work in Los Angeles, scoring 37 points to grab his fourth All-Star MVP

LeBron James and Kobe Bryant could put un an awfully nice show in the Finals this June, assuming The King doesn’t quit in the second round again this year. Bryant scored a game-high 37 in last night’s NBA All-Star Game to grab MVP honours in a 148-143 West win, with James’ 29 points, 12 boards and 10 assists — just the second triple-double in game history — coming up on the short end for the East. (Note: I’m kidding. There’s no way Miami gets to Finals, and it’ll have more to do with Boston rolling and less with LeBron choking this time.)

Bryant scored 21 in the first half, giving the West a 12-point lead through 24 minutes and helping stretch it to 17 before an East run led by James and Amar’e Stoudemire made it tight in the final few minutes. Bryant also grabbed 14 rebounds and got help from Kevin Durant, who added 34 points of his own. Stoudemire matched James with 29 for the East and Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh each had 14.

The lack of defense aside, it’s not hard to appreciate the NBA All-Star Game with all the skill on hand. Hey, even Stevie Wonder had the time of his life. If you missed any of it, check out the weekend in photos on my Facebook page.

With the fun out of the way, its back to business for the Raptors — they’re in action again tomorrow night with a trip to Charlotte, before returning home for four straight starting with Chicago on Wednesday.

Posted by: Jeremy | February 20, 2011

Griffin turns in a nice performance, fix and all

The lasting image of the 2011 Dunk Contest

Sure, Blake Griffin’s over-the-Kia clincher last night may have been a little overrated, but it’s good entertainment and that’s why he’s the winner of the 2011 Sprite Slam Dunk. Oh yeah, going up against a washout like JaVale McGee in the final doesn’t hurt, either.

As expected, Griffin stole the NBA’s collective heart last night, even if it took an average of 18 attempts to pull off both his first round dunks before getting them right. Also, never mind that his second dunk was a ripoff of DeMar DeRozan’s first, and although slightly less spectacular, pulled off a higher score to get him through and send DeRozan home. Pair that with last year’s unjustly defeat at the little hands of Nate Robinson and it’s two straight seasons of robbery in the event for DeMar. As if the guy is subjected to losing enough playing for the Raptors, hey?

Aside from the Toronto snub, it was a fine All-Star Saturday Night in Los Angeles. Along with Griffin’s win, Stephen Curry edged Russell Westbrook in the Skills Challenge and James Jones held off Paul Pierce and Ray Allen in the Three-Point Shootout, presumably because Kevin Garnett wasn’t able to get on the court to tap him in the groin while he was competing.

The league has one more night of fun on tap, with the actual All-Star Game going tonight at 8:00 from Staples Center.

Posted by: Jeremy | February 19, 2011

A little preview…

Us Toronto folk might be rooting for DeMar DeRozan tonight, but here’s a little something that might be worth betting on. Sit back and enjoy 137 thunderous throwdowns, all courtesy of The Cabbage Patch Kid.

Posted by: Jeremy | February 17, 2011

Jays lock up Bautista

After a quiet winter, Bautista got his big pay day

We already knew Alex Anthopoulos could shed salary, and now we know he can spend a little too. The Jays GM made his first big money move today, avoiding arbitration with Jose Bautista by locking the 54-homer man up with a five-year, $64 million contract. Man, and I thought yesterday’s minor league deal with Scott Podsednik was big news.

Is Bautista worth it? Well, a player that nearly doubled his career home run mark in one season (he came in with 59 homers in his first six years) is bound to come with question, but I’m all for rewarding a guy that had a breakout year, likes being in Toronto and has publically said on several occasions that this is where he wants to remain. We’ll likely get an idea already early in 2011 whether or not he’s worth all he got, but hey, he’s already having a much, much better season than Miguel Cabrera.

Aside from his 54 homers in 2010, Bautista was an altogether headier player, drawing 100 walks (second-best in the AL), reaching base at a .378 clip (10th) and finishing with an OPS of .995, which was good for third behind Cabrera and MVP Josh Hamilton. Toss in 12 assists in just 113 starts in right field and the versatility to play either corner infield position and we’ve got a pretty good player. I’ll take Bautista, even at $64 million.

Final figures aside, it was a safe move on both ends, with Anthopoulos and the Jays likely saving in the event Bautista puts up similar numbers and Bautista putting himself in fine position in case of a bad year or injury.

Posted by: Jeremy | February 17, 2011

RuPaul gets the last laugh

Bosh came back, won, and managed not to get his nose broken

He came, Raptors fans booed and Toronto lost. Again. Notorious fake tough guy Chris Bosh made his return to Air Canada Centre last night, scoring 25 points to help carry Miami to a surprisingly-close 103-95 win over the Raptors, who held tight but tossed away a handful of chances to make it even more interesting in the fourth quarter. Bosh got help from two unknown teammates, with some guy named Dwyane Wade scoring 28 and another named LeBron James adding 23 points, 13 rebounds and eight assists.

Aside from an early run in the game’s first five minutes, Toronto played from behind, pulling to within four points with about five minutes to go and hanging tough behind 38 points from Andrea Bargnani. Turnovers, missed shots and a few Miami offensive boards kept it from getting any closer, though, as the Heat came away with their third straight win against the Raptors this season in front of 20,156 fans, many of whom haven’t been to another game this season and won’t the rest of the way.

Bargnani’s offensive output was one of the finest of his career — he did it on 15-of-26 shooting, including 5-of-6 from deep — but his all-around effort was again plagued by just four rebounds in 39 minutes and his usual array of defensive inepeptitude. DeMar DeRozan’s maturation continued with 24 points, though his hot start fizzled when he missed nine of his last 13 shots, the fourth straight game in which his production faded after a strong first half. Jose Calderon’s shooting funk continued with a 2-of-9 night and Amir Johnson’s 11 rebounds, five blocks and two steals were slightly deadened by a 2-of-10 shooting performance of his own. Sonny Weems rounded out the starting five with just two points in 24 minutes, while further establishing himself as the worst defensive swingman the league has ever seen.

As far as Bosh goes, the boos were expected, and depending on who you ask, well-deserved. Regardless of personal opinion, it was going to happen. Personally, I’m over it — who came blame the guy, after all? Was he going anywhere as a franchise player? No, and credit to him for realizing that. Toronto may not look better off at 15-41, but is .500 with a maxed-out cap and uninspired team leader better? The way the past three seasons ended, I’m saying no.  Then again, that’s not to imply these Raptors are anything to get too excited about anytime soon, at least as long as King Bargnani is running the show.

The loss sends Toronto to the All-Star Break with the NBA’s fourth-worst record, with Cleveland, fresh off a shocking home win against the Lakers, the only team trailing in the Eastern Conference.

Posted by: Jeremy | February 14, 2011

Pitchers, catchers report and all is good in the world

Baseball's back

Beautiful, isn’t it? Check out the first sights of Spring Training in this gallery.

Posted by: Jeremy | February 14, 2011

Big Baby soars to the heavens…well, almost

A breakaway in a nationally televised game against Miami. Yeah, probably not the best time to try and find out whether or not you can dunk, Big Baby Davis.

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