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Morning brew

A programming note before we delve into the links: Michael Lee will be online starting at 11 a.m. to take all your Wizards-related questions. Stop on by, even if you're just on your way to Dan Steinberg's Bog chat at 11:30.

In Tuesday's Washington Post, Mr. Lee takes a closer look at the struggles of the Wizards' big three, who are only 4-5 when they play together this season.

Mike Prada of Bullets Forever takes a look back at Sunday's loss to the Pistons.

Truth About It flashes back 10 years and recalls the Rod Strickland/Mitch Richmond/Ike Austin era. Not exactly the good ol' days, plenty of Strickland fodder here.

ESPN.com's Marc Stein released his weekly NBA power rankings. Wizards move up one spot to 25th. Chris Mannix of SI.com has the Wizards 24th in his power rankings.

Around the league...

Just four games on Monday, but among them was Allen Iverson's debut with the 76ers against his former team, the Denver Nuggets. Iverson made an emotional, floor-kissing return to Philadelphia. He had 11 points and 6 assists but the 76ers lost their 10th consecutive game before the first sellout of the season at Wachovia Center. NBA.com's David Aldridge writes about the importance of being Iverson and why his return to the 76ers at age 34 makes sense. ESPN.com's John Hollinger takes a look at Iverson's potential impact on the 76ers.

Yahoo! Sports columnist Adrian Wojnarowski says that Iverson did more than provide a boost of energy to Philadelphia fans on Monday. He also drew attention away from the Tim Donaghy scandal, for which the NBA owes him a huge thank you.

Disgraced former NBA official Tim Donaghy has been making the rounds promoting his new book, "Personal Foul." He did an interview on "60 Minutes" and with ESPN. While Donaghy's claims of multiple officials manipulating games has generated some buzz, ESPN.com Truehoop blogger Henry Abbott wrote an incredible post debunking Donaghy.

Cleveland Plain Dealer columnist Bill Livingston calls out the Cavaliers for failing to chastise LeBron James for dancing along the sideline in a recent win against the Chicago Bulls.

Sports Illustrated's Arash Markazi takes a look at how Amare Stoudemire has the Phoenix Suns off and running again as he prepares to enter free agency next summer. But at least one big name -- and really big guy -- will not join him. Houston General Manager Daryl Morey tells AOL Fanhouse's Chris Thomasson that injured center Yao Ming will not opt out of his contract next summer.

Highlights from the 76ers and the rest of the slate in NBA.com's Daily Zap:

By Ed Guzman  |  December 8, 2009; 9:23 AM ET
Categories:  Morning brew  | Tags: Washington Wizards; NBA; Gilbert Arenas; Antawn Jamison; Flip Saunders; Caron Butler; Allen Iverson  
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Next: Poll: What should the Wizards do?

Comments

Seems to be a split between the folks that think its early and team /Medium 3 need to Gel in Flips and the side that feel thats always the excuse.

Posted by: millineumman | December 8, 2009 9:36 AM | Report abuse

correction; Flips system

Posted by: millineumman | December 8, 2009 9:39 AM | Report abuse

As to the Lebron article about him dancing on the sidelines. Oh when he and his Cavaliers are winning, he is all on the side taking mock photos and a host of other unsportsman like antics. But, let him lose as he did in Orlando. He shows his true colors in defeat. Wasn't even classy enough to shake hands with the victors. What a class "a" jerk. Oh he can ball but he has all of the class of a freeze dried grapefruit. NONE!

Posted by: ivyleague | December 8, 2009 9:39 AM | Report abuse

i get what ur saying about the wiz shooting not being good enough to score with the teams they are allowing to score 100ppg, but doesn't that mean that they should be trying to keep teams under 100 ppg if they themselves are incapable of scoring that much. if the only way to win is to have more points than your opponent, why not limit their scoring so you don't have to score as much, especially if you're not a good shooting team? If we hold a team to 75 pts, we only need to score 76 a very attainable number, even considering the wiz shooting woes.

I don't know the league avg, but giving up 100 ppg doesn't sound like a good defensive number whether it's boston or the wiz or whoever. just because other teams have potent scoring to cover up for their defensive liabilities doesn't mean they are playing good defense. The wiz don't have that same luxury, and that's why our poor defense results in losses.The wiz can't score enough for the sake of their bad defense.

Posted by: lilhollywood10 | December 8, 2009 10:03 AM | Report abuse

The league average is 96 ppg. The main way to keep scoring down if you're a team that's struggling to score is to slow the game down and make your opponent play half court basketball. Scoring in transition is much easier than scoring in half court. The Wizards are near the top in opp fg%, rebounds and blocks.

They don't need to score more...just miss less. A higher FG % makes teams run a half court offense.

Potent scoring has nothing to do with covering defense...a team that holds offenses to 43-44% is near the top. That has nothing to do with offense.

Posted by: SDMDTSU | December 8, 2009 10:25 AM | Report abuse

all hail kang james

Posted by: lilhollywood10 | December 8, 2009 10:39 AM | Report abuse

huh, limiting the other teams made baskets wouldn't help?????????

Posted by: lilhollywood10 | December 8, 2009 10:42 AM | Report abuse

a team that holds offenses to 43-44% is near the top. That has nothing to do with offense.

Posted by: SDMDTSU | December 8, 2009 10:25 AM | Report abuse

i can appreciate the stats, but the reality is that they hold teams to a decent shooting percentage they just get more opportunities. now if the opposing teams are getting better opportunities because of transition, then i would say the wiz need to tighten up their transition DEFENSE. when the wiz miss a shot the scoreboard doesn't tally 2 pts for the opposition, they actually have to posess the ball, get it up the court via dribble or passing, and complete a shot into the basket. there are 3 opportunities to make a defensive play during that scenario. you could steal the ball from the ball handler, you could steal a pass, or you could block/defend the shot. please tell me what the hell any of that has to do with the wizards shooting.

Posted by: lilhollywood10 | December 8, 2009 10:48 AM | Report abuse

"Seems to be a split between the folks that think its early and team /Medium 3 need to Gel in Flips and the side that feel thats always the excuse.Posted by: millineumman"

Here's my question: what's a millineum?

Posted by: Samson151 | December 8, 2009 11:11 AM | Report abuse

yikes

Posted by: lilhollywood10 | December 8, 2009 11:15 AM | Report abuse

Something for those still grinding the "Arenas is not a PG" ax to chew on:

http://www.nba.com/pistons/news/dumars_091207.html

Posted by: kalo_rama | December 8, 2009 11:19 AM | Report abuse


With regard to Arenas playing PG, maybe the question should be, "Can you win with Arenas running your offense?"

Posted by: tgif11 | December 8, 2009 11:33 AM | Report abuse

Can you win with the current Gil running your offense? Remains to be seen, but so far answer is "NO"

Can you win with Gil comparable to the old Gil and a solid supporting cast? I think so, and hopefully we get a chance to find out.

Posted by: divi3 | December 8, 2009 11:49 AM | Report abuse

Here's my question: what's a millineum?


Posted by: Samson151 | December 8, 2009

You will soon find out!

Posted by: millineumman | December 8, 2009 11:50 AM | Report abuse

"please tell me what the hell any of that has to do with the wizards shooting."

CB clanking gimme Js leads to a lot of fast breaks.

Posted by: divi3 | December 8, 2009 11:50 AM | Report abuse

And CB turnovers have the same effect.
I'd just like to see Caron react to what he sees when he's making his drives to the baseket. I swear sometimes it seems that when he's confronted with a defense collapsing on him, he hasn't a clue where the open man is or should be.

Posted by: tgif11 | December 8, 2009 11:56 AM | Report abuse

imho, many times we'd be better off with CB out, Dom at 3, and NY picking up the scoring slack.

another lineup I like is AJ at 3, AB at 4

much love for Caron, but he really needs to step it up

Posted by: divi3 | December 8, 2009 12:03 PM | Report abuse

"please tell me what the hell any of that has to do with the wizards shooting."

CB clanking gimme Js leads to a lot of fast breaks.

Posted by: divi3 | December 8, 2009 11:50 AM | Report abuse

i understand that, but just because a missed jump shot is the start of a fast break does that mean that the team is automatically allowed to score, or is it an opportunity to play transition defense.you can stop a fast break sometimes with good transition defense. then you force the team to set up half court offense . Good transition defense stops the fast break, poor shooting may start some fast breaks, but so do turnovers, steals and blocks........wait a minute does that mean that good defense creates easier offensive opportunities?Maybe if the wiz played better defense they'd get more fast breaks and easier shots, as these teams we play seem to force us into a low shooting percentage which leads to the fast break scoring opp.

Posted by: lilhollywood10 | December 8, 2009 12:26 PM | Report abuse

but we are holding teams to a good fg %...that's a sign of good defense right?

isnt the problem that we miss so many shots and commit so many TOs, we give the opposition too many possessions previous to which we havent scored?

Posted by: divi3 | December 8, 2009 12:38 PM | Report abuse

Been reading this columnist on the predictive value of a team's performance over the first quarter of the season (for the NBA, after tonight's games). It looks bad for the Wiz since very few teams that start this slowly in Quarter One go on to make the playoffs.

But that's a correlation, not a causation. Fact is, 75% of available games have yet to be played. There's plenty of opportunity for a strong finish. The NFL Cardinals last won a title in 1947, and have been for much of the past few decades one of the worst managed clubs in the league, and yet there they were last season, in the fourth quarter of the Super Bowl, looking like they might well win it.

There's a lot of season left.

Posted by: Samson151 | December 8, 2009 1:04 PM | Report abuse

"The NFL Cardinals last won a title in 1947, and have been for much of the past few decades one of the worst managed clubs in the league, and yet there they were last season, in the fourth quarter of the Super Bowl, looking like they might well win it."

Your optimism is admirable, but the Cardinals' season doesn't really correlate to the Wizards situation. As you noted, about 25% of the NBA season has been played. After their first 4 games last season the Cardinals ware 2-2, a .500 winning percentage. Nothing to write home about, but not outright terrible. The Wizards are currently 7-12, a .378 winning percentage. Pretty bad. Last in the division as a matter of fact.

That isn't to say they can't or won't improve (I expect they will and, as you say, there are plenty of games to be played), but the odds of them making it as far (relatively speaking) as the Cardinals are exceedingly slim. They might claw their way into the lower rungs of the playoffs, but barring a massive turnaround (or a blockbuster, franchise-altering trade) it's hard to imagine them going much beyond that.

While I was among those who expected an adjustment period earlier on, the team's early play has revealed a number of fundamental flaws and weaknesses that aren't likely to just vanish over time.

Posted by: kalo_rama | December 8, 2009 1:23 PM | Report abuse

"but we are holding teams to a good fg %...that's a sign of good defense right?"

It's one sign, sure. It's the one Flip chose to focus on. And the numbers suggest real improvement in that respect.

So much for numbers.

"isnt the problem that we miss so many shots and commit so many TOs, we give the opposition too many possessions previous to which we havent scored?"posted by divi3

Depends. In Detroit, we had only one fewer FG, hit two more three-pointers than the Pistons, but lost on free throws (Detroit took thirteen more attempts and hit an additional four of them). Since the Wiz shot 85% from the line vs. 67% for Detroit, it's entirely possible that a couple extra fouls called on the Pistons would have swung the game Washington's way.

Of course, the Wiz could just be playing poor defense, leading to inopportune fouls. The Tim Donaghy scandal is throwing a shadow over the issue, however. Donaghy asserts that even the refs who don't bet on the game (all but Donaghy, I sincerely hope) deliberately affect the outcome by selectively failing to call fouls on certain teams and even players. Why? Spite, says Donaghy. Or maybe just to assuage the home crowd.

No conclusive evidence to prove that, of course, but then there's no conclusive evidence that Usain Bolt takes performance enhancing drugs, and yet I believe he does.

Posted by: Samson151 | December 8, 2009 1:26 PM | Report abuse

innocent until proven guilty my friend, bolt is badass sent down from olympus i think

Posted by: divi3 | December 8, 2009 1:36 PM | Report abuse

"The Wizards are currently 7-12, a .378 winning percentage. Pretty bad. Last in the division as a matter of fact."

Very true. Except it's actually .368. And their little division is better than it used to be, making things even more difficult for Washington.

So what makes me think they turn it around?

Well, for one thing, I never had very high expectations. 38 wins would double last season's total, and I'd be a happy camper. Would that save Grunfeld's job? With Abe Pollin gone, who can tell?

Plus it looks to me (and this is entirely subjective) that they aren't that far off. God knows I could be wrong. But like the Redskins -- in a sport I know a lot more about -- they sometimes look like they're ready to explode. Like the pieces are there, even if the whole hasn't come into existence yet. And when the pieces come together, watch out.

But then, what do I know? I'm a fan.


Posted by: Samson151 | December 8, 2009 1:44 PM | Report abuse

"innocent until proven guilty my friend, bolt is badass sent down from olympus i thinkPosted by: divi3"

LOL I suppose that's one way of looking at it.

Posted by: Samson151 | December 8, 2009 1:45 PM | Report abuse

Samson151,
It's obvious to me that NBA refs don't always call the game straight-up. How many times have we seen refs try to give guys a break for whatever reason by, for example, waiting to see if the ball goes in the hoop before calling a foul on a given player? Or giving a superstar's foul to a teammate when the star was the obvious culprit? A foul is a foul regardless of who the player is or whether the ball goes in, right? The super-late whistles have to go!!
College basketball refs face many of the same challenges that NBA refs do in terms of trying to call a game played by fast, quick athletes, but we don't see them called out nearly as often as pro refs.
Call the game straight-up, end the favoritism and NBA credibility will improve.

Posted by: tgif11 | December 8, 2009 1:56 PM | Report abuse

"Well, for one thing, I never had very high expectations. "

Well then, why use last year's Super Bowl finalists as a point of comparison for what they might be able to accomplish? That kind of comparison inevitably creates the impression of high expectations.

"But like the Redskins -- in a sport I know a lot more about -- they sometimes look like they're ready to explode. Like the pieces are there, even if the whole hasn't come into existence yet. And when the pieces come together, watch out."

Which pretty much underscores my point. The Redskins have had stretches each of the last several years where they looked poised "to explode." Every time, however, they've proven to be a dud.

Both franchises have been living on the wispy fumes of "we're almost there" for years. At some point, however, the realization has to set in that they aren't going anywhere. This season may be the last trip for this group, and they aren't off to a promising journey.

Posted by: kalo_rama | December 8, 2009 2:09 PM | Report abuse

If you look at the stats. The Wizards SHOULD be better. They turn the ball over too much with low percentage shots and give up too many free throws.

However, they're not. Their offensive efficiency is hindering the team. If you can hold teams to shooting a low percentage, and rebound well, that's what you're looking for.

Right now they are trading missed shots/turnovers/missed free throws/bad shots with made baskets/free throws. Even if they are missing at a higher rated. 43% is much better than the almost 50% last season or damn near 47% in Eddie's best year.

Posted by: SDMDTSU | December 8, 2009 2:23 PM | Report abuse

Look, the Wizards problem is pretty simple...they were never and still are not a defensive team. Now they are a poor defensive team that is having trouble scoring.

We all know that getting consistent D from AJ and Gil is not going to happen, but we can overlook that when they are scoring 50+ pts between them and gil is going to the line 15 times and Aj is pulling 10 boards.

Caron D used to be pretty good on the D, but he obviously has slowed just a tad. When he was pulling an 18/6/4 with 3 steals, no one was overly worried about it.

Miller will help. Boykins has been a great help, DS is basically a non-factor now. Crit is hurt. AB has stepped up. Dom is fine for what he is. haywood is a steady 12/10, McGee is like a puppy - boundless energy and doing flips, but kind of unfocussed. Foye hasn't been able to really step up and NY is inconsistent.

So, we can count on the rest of the team to put up about 40 pts a game on average right now (maybe 48 when Miller gets back). that means that unless CB, GA and AJ can't get 60 between them we are going to lose.

So far, they haven't been able to do that. The possibility is there, based on previous data, to suggest they may be able to do it again, but if they don't, and no one else steps up to do it regularly, we lose.

If they do, we start winning again. I think Miller will allow us to have them only score about 55 between and still win, but if Jamison has 8 and Butler has 16 and Gil has 27, they still come up a few pts short.

We score more = they have fewer fast break ops and score less.

Maybe los tres grande have lost it. Then we are screwed. I think they have another season or two left, but they haven't shown it consistently yet.

Posted by: Blurred | December 8, 2009 2:36 PM | Report abuse

"I think they have another season or two left, but they haven't shown it consistently yet."

They may have another season or two left of quality basketball, but I'm not so sure they have another season or two left in D.C. if this one falls short. It's likely the new owner (be it Leonsis or someone else) isn't going to be as enamored of these guys as Pollin was. It's also likely that without the twin restrictions of advancing age and failing health, the new owner will be more willing to take the long view towards rebuilding, which usually starts with dealing overpaid, under-performing players--even if it means taking back less in talent--for deals that will improve the team's financial bottom line and better position them to make moves going forward. The clock may well be ticking on the Big 3 era.

Posted by: kalo_rama | December 8, 2009 2:47 PM | Report abuse

Kalo- right again. My thoughts are more about this season than future ones.

If they can "get it together" by January and have a nice run, I'd be very pleased.

I am far less hopeful than I was 60 days ago, though.

Whether ther is improvement this year or not, I'd love to see us stocking up on Draft picks

Posted by: Blurred | December 8, 2009 3:00 PM | Report abuse

"Both franchises have been living on the wispy fumes of "we're almost there" for years. At some point, however, the realization has to set in that they aren't going anywhere. This season may be the last trip for this group, and they aren't off to a promising journey.Posted by: kalo_rama"

That's an interesting comment. I can't remember which bloviator it was, but somebody said that the Skins' problem was that they weren't willing to fall all the way to the bottom so they could rebuild the way other franchises have. Neither I imagine are the Wiz, because it would mean peoples' jobs (which it now looks like it will anyway).

So if I'm wrong, and the Wiz never do get around to playing a whole lot better, I think we can guess what the future might hold.

Posted by: Samson151 | December 8, 2009 3:16 PM | Report abuse

"I can't remember which bloviator it was, but somebody said that the Skins' problem was that they weren't willing to fall all the way to the bottom so they could rebuild the way other franchises have. Neither I imagine are the Wiz, because it would mean peoples' jobs (which it now looks like it will anyway)."

I think it had less to do with people being afraid of losing their jobs (Grunfeld's been at this long enough to know it goes with the territory) than it had to do with Pollin's oft-stated desire to win another title before he died and the fact that he knew that day wasn't long enough in coming that it would allow for a stage one rebuild. Which is why I've said before that Grunfeld's job may actually be more secure in the wake of Pollin's passing.

Posted by: kalo_rama | December 8, 2009 3:37 PM | Report abuse

I just read the online chat and saw this:

It's nice to hope that you can throw them back together and say, 'Vuala!'

WTF is VUALA?!?!

Is this like the third grade or the Washington Post?

Posted by: Blurred | December 8, 2009 4:16 PM | Report abuse

As to the Lebron article about him dancing on the sidelines. Oh when he and his Cavaliers are winning, he is all on the side taking mock photos and a host of other unsportsman like antics. But, let him lose as he did in Orlando. He shows his true colors in defeat. Wasn't even classy enough to shake hands with the victors. What a class "a" jerk. Oh he can ball but he has all of the class of a freeze dried grapefruit. NONE!

Posted by: ivyleague | December 8, 2009 9:39 AM | Report abuse

Agree..the antics are unprofessional just as walking off the court without shaking hands is. Hanging on the rim is a technical but extreme showboating is ok it appears. Very juveline.

Posted by: ptp23 | December 8, 2009 4:54 PM | Report abuse

As to the Lebron article about him dancing on the sidelines. Oh when he and his Cavaliers are winning, he is all on the side taking mock photos and a host of other unsportsman like antics. But, let him lose as he did in Orlando. He shows his true colors in defeat. Wasn't even classy enough to shake hands with the victors. What a class "a" jerk. Oh he can ball but he has all of the class of a freeze dried grapefruit. NONE!

Posted by: ivyleague | December 8, 2009 9:39 AM | Report abuse

Agree-Very unprofessional- both the showboating and walking off the court without congratulating the other team in that play-off series. Hanging on the rim and waving your finger after a block is a technical in the NBA but extreme showboating is apparently ok. Very juvenile.

Posted by: ptp23 | December 8, 2009 4:58 PM | Report abuse

Do you think LeBron knows how to spell "Voila?"

Posted by: Blurred | December 8, 2009 5:02 PM | Report abuse

Lost in all of this is that we start a 6'6 and 6'8 forwards. It'shilarious to see how many times taller guys just reach over Caron and Jamison for rebounds or just shoot over them. The only way this team makes a move is to field an actual NBA sized front court instaed of a college one.

Posted by: ptp23 | December 8, 2009 5:06 PM | Report abuse

Without digging deep into the chemistry issues again, if GA was 80% of the player he was at this point we would have a .500 record or better.

To ptp23's point, that is why I have been advocating either starting Blatche with AJ or playing a bigger front court many more minutes than we currently are.

Posted by: rphilli721 | December 8, 2009 5:25 PM | Report abuse

easy on AJ he can do no wrong

Posted by: lilhollywood10 | December 8, 2009 5:25 PM | Report abuse

As far as our defense is concerned, we are without doubt better defensively. Opponents averaging 100+ pts is a result of more opportunities and not their success rate. Not too difficult to understand, I don't think.

Posted by: rphilli721 | December 8, 2009 5:29 PM | Report abuse

no hollywood - no one ever said he could do no wrong.

People on here were saying that he was only out to get his. I merely pointed out that so far this season, when he "gets his" we are 3-0.

The problem is that in 10 games, he has only really gotten his 3 times.

Which goes with my long post earlier. This team is built around getting 60+ pts per game in some form or fashion from AJ, Gil and Caron. If they don't get that, we are gonna lose a lot of games. if they can hit that, then we will win a lot of games.

To hit that, Aj needs to "get his."

Posted by: Blurred | December 8, 2009 5:39 PM | Report abuse

And what he is doing wrong right now is that he is not getting his like 30 & 11.

And we are losing.

You said you don't like the way he is a
black hole" previously and maligned him for taking too many shots. Trouble was, you were saying he was taking too many shots while he was shooting 55-60%.

I agree he is taking too many shots when you play like he has since Friday and are shooting 30%.

So yeah...I kind of blame him for the past two losses. I want him to score 30+ pts every game and get 12 rebounds and hit 60% of his shots. I don't want him to take fewer shots. I just want him to make more of them.

Posted by: Blurred | December 8, 2009 5:45 PM | Report abuse

expecting 30 and 11 of anything from a player not named Dwight,Lebron,Kobe,Dwayne and maybe a few others is asking a bit much. definitely asking a lot on this team. and i don't know if i have a problem with AJ taking a certain amt of shots, it's the "quality of the shot" to paraphrase Kobe. now i hear people talking about post game and having a 6 10 260 pounder on the block as if there's a problem with the power forward. i'm just defending AJ like most people on here do. he'll shoot his way out of this funk, just like i hope gil does. that's real talk too, i can deal with AJ takin no look shots and 3s off the first pass if he's hittin. but when he's missing those shots he doesn't look like he belongs on the court.

Posted by: lilhollywood10 | December 8, 2009 6:02 PM | Report abuse

"The player who would be most likely to get moved is Butler because he has a favorable contract, earning about $20 million through 2011. Plus, Butler was in incredibly high demand this summer."

-Michael Lee

Hmmmm....somebody I know just stated the exact same thing recently in a thread. If this does not turn around by the trade deadline CB is as good as gone. Don't know what we would get for him, but a more rugged player and/or a high draft pick would be just fine by me. By then we will know whether this season is pretty much over or not. I guess the worse case scenario is we are hovering around .500 and flirting with being a good team and the opportunity passes. I could be wrong, but I see addition by subtraction with someone like AB getting an opportunity who can do certain things that CB cannot like moving the ball and adding size to the front court. Or, MM getting a lot of his minutes who I believe is a better all-around player except perhaps defensively.

Posted by: rphilli721 | December 8, 2009 6:21 PM | Report abuse


Actually, several bloggers have been saying for weeks that Butler's the easiest "big 3" player to trade. Personally, I hope it happens.

Posted by: 2020doc | December 8, 2009 8:35 PM | Report abuse

All Our [pieces are in place} and its not working. We have Jamison taking long jumpers all game long and not hitting them most of the time and along with his lack of defense is not helping this team. The Wiz need to leave Stevenson on the bench because almost every time he comes in the game he starts jacking up long 3 point shots and missing almost all of them. There are games when the opposing team constantly drives to the basket for layups and we go back down the court and someone jacks up a long jumper. This goes on all game long. As long as they play like this the losses will pile up.

Posted by: mdondon300 | December 8, 2009 9:51 PM | Report abuse

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