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Wednesday, August 20
ALANA BEARD NAMED TO THE 2014 WNBA ALL-DEFENSIVE SECOND TEAM

 

Los Angeles – Los Angeles guard Alana Beard was today named to the WNBA’s All-Defensive Second Team, it was announced by the WNBA. As voted on by WNBA head coaches, Beard picks up her fourth Second Team honor of her 10-year career.  

Joining Beard (29 points) on the All-Defensive Second Team is forward Tamika Catchings of the Fever (29 points), guard Danielle Robinson of the San Antonio Stars (27 points), forward Maya Moore of the Minnesota Lynx (17 points) and center Sylvia Fowles of the Chicago Sky (17 points).

Catchings, the five-time WNBA Defensive Player of the Year, picks up her first career Second Team nod after earning nine WNBA All-Defensive First Team selections.  Fowles, who has captured four WNBA All-Defensive First Team awards, earns a Second Team honor for the second time in her career. Robinson earned the third of her career, and Moore, the 2014 MVP, is a first-time member of the All-Defensive squad.

A panel of the WNBA’s 12 head coaches voted on the WNBA All-Defensive Team, selecting First and Second Teams by position.  Coaches were not permitted to vote for players from their own teams.  Players earned two points for each First Team vote and one point for a Second Team vote.

Headlining the WNBA’s All-Defensive First Team is 2014 Defensive Player of the Year Brittney Griner and WNBA steals leader Angel McCoughtry of the Atlanta Dream.  Joining Griner and McCoughtry on the First Team are forward Sancho Lyttle of the Dream (45 points), guard Briann January of the Indiana Fever (34 points), and guard Tanisha Wright of the Seattle Storm (30 points).

Griner recorded a league-record 129 blocks, surpassing the previous single-season mark of 114, set by Margo Dydek in 1998.  She led the league in blocks per game (3.79 bpg), ranked eighth in defensive rebounds (6.1 drpg) and ninth in total rebounds (8.0 rpg).  McCoughtry led the league in steals (2.39 spg) and ranked 10th in the Eastern Conference in rebounding (3.5 rpg). 

Wright received her fifth career First Team honor, while Lyttle ranked fifth in the WNBA in rebounding (9.0 rpg) to earn her second First Team nod.  January is making her second career appearance on the First Team after averaging 1.23 spg this season. 

2014 WNBA All-Defensive First Team

Player                                    Team                         Position                     Points
Brittney Griner                      Phoenix Mercury          Center                        55
Sancho Lyttle                        Atlanta Dream             Forward                      45
Briann January                      Indiana Fever              Guard                         34
Angel McCoughtry                 Atlanta Dream              Forward                      30
Tanisha Wright                     Seattle Storm               Guard                         30

 

2014 WNBA All-Defensive Second Team

Player                        Team                                     Position                     Points
Alana Beard              Los Angeles Sparks                  Guard                         29
Tamika Catchings      Indiana Fever                          Forward                      29
Danielle Robinson      San Antonio Stars                   Guard                          27
Sylvia Fowles            Chicago Sky                            Center                        17
Maya Moore              Minnesota Lynx                       Forward                      17



Monday, August 18
Ogwumike Named Community Assist Award Winner

 

NNEKA AND CHINEY OGWUMIKE INSPIRE OTHERS THROUGH EMPOWERMENT AND EDUCATION
AS SISTERS RECEIVE WNBA CARES COMMUNITY ASSIST AWARD PRESENTED BY STATE FARM®

NEW YORK – WNBA All-Stars and sisters Nneka and Chiney Ogwumike (Connecticut Sun) were named recipients of the July WNBA Cares Community Assist Award presented by State Farm for their generosity and charitable efforts across the globe.  On the court, the sisters made history in April becoming only the second set of siblings ever selected with the top overall pick in an American professional sports draft.

Chiney and Nneka’s parents are originally from Nigeria, and the family maintains deep ties to the country.  The sisters teamed up with the U.S. Fund for UNICEF to launch a fundraising competition which helps raise funds to support UNICEF programs, such as the Girls’ Education Project, that focuses on education and empowerment for young women in Nigeria.  The Girls’ Education Project aims to give one million girls in Nigeria access to quality learning, provide scholarships for female teachers and establish safe spaces for girls.  The goal of the competition is to engage middle school, high school and AAU basketball teams across the country.  Competition participants can enter as a team or individually by logging on to Chiney and Nneka’s fundraising page: www.crowdrise.com/nnekaandchiney.  Winners of the competition will receive a private basketball clinic with the Ogwumike sisters.

They also recently hosted a basketball clinic for local athletes at St. Bernard’s High School in Uncasville, Conn., and educated the group about the Girls’ Education Project.  The clinic included basketball drills and friendly competition, with the sisters serving as team captains.

"We've always wanted to make a difference, and our Nigerian culture is a huge part of who we are," said Chiney Ogwumike.  “Basketball has empowered us to educate people about this cause – that’s a lot bigger than what we do on the court.”

“These girls have a right to an education and to live without fear,” said Nneka Ogwumike.  "We hope that by making others aware of the situation in Nigeria that it will help make a difference in these girls’ lives.”

In recognition of their efforts, the WNBA and State Farm will donate $7,500 to the U.S. Fund for UNICEF.   The WNBA Community Assist Award presented by State Farm is awarded monthly during the season to the player that best reflects the WNBA’s passion to make a difference in the community.  Please visit wnba.com/statefarmcommunityassist for more information on the award and its recipients.



Monday, July 21
SPARKS RELIEVE CAROL ROSS OF HER HEAD COACHING DUTIES
Carol Ross

LOS ANGELES – The Los Angeles Sparks have relieved Carol Ross as head coach and named Sparks Executive Vice President and general manager Penny Toler as the team’s head coach for the remainder of the season.

Ross joined the Sparks as head coach in 2012, amassing a 61 – 36 career record in two and a half seasons, including two playoff appearances (2012, 2013).

“I’d like to thank Carol for her contributions to the Sparks organization, team and Los Angeles community,” said Toler.  “Carol is a tremendous coach, but we felt it was time to bring in a different energy to this team. Decisions like this are never easy, and we wish Carol the best.”
Toler has spent her entire WNBA career in Los Angeles, amassing 17 years as a player, general manager and executive vice president with the Sparks.   The longest tenured general manager in the WNBA, Toler took over the reigns as general manager just prior to the 2000 season and compiled back-to-back WNBA Championship teams two seasons into her tenure, bringing Los Angeles titles in 2001 and 2002.
In her 14 seasons as general manager, Toler has guided the team to the WNBA Playoffs 12 times (2000-06 and 2008-10, 2012-13), three conference championships (2001-2003) and two WNBA titles.

As a player, she scored the first basket in WNBA history on June 21, 1997 vs. the New York Liberty, and finished the inaugural season as the Sparks’ second leading scorer with 13.1 points per game. The following season, she shot an impressive 41.7% from three-point range to rank second in the WNBA while finishing fifth in the league in assists at 4.8 per game.  After three seasons, she hung up her basketball shoes following the 1999 season with WNBA career averages of 10.0 points, 2.8 rebounds and 4.0 assists in 88 games played. She retired from playing professional basketball with a combined 13 years overseas/WNBA experience.

Joining Toler on the Sparks sideline are assistant coach Gary Kloppenburg and former Sparks assistant, Steve Smith.  Smith returns to the Sparks after serving as an assistant coach during the 1998, 2009 and 2010 Sparks seasons. He has over 20 years of coaching experience at the high school, collegiate and professional level, most recently serving as the athletic director at Winward School in Los Angeles.



Tuesday, June 17
SPARKS SIGN DARXIA MORRIS

 

LOS ANGELES –Los Angeles Sparks Executive Vice President and general manager Penny Toler today signed free agent guard Darxia Morris and released guard Samantha Prahalis.  Per team policy, terms of the deal were not disclosed.

A Pasadena native, Morris averaged 19.1 points, 5.1 rebounds and 2.6 assists in 21 games with Azzurra Orvieto (Italy) last season.  She spent the previous season (2012-13) with GMA-Del Pozzuoli in the same Italian League (Lega A) where she averaged 16.3 points, 4.9 rebounds and 1.3 assists in 18 games played.

The 5-8 guard out of UCLA started all 33 games for the Bruins as a senior where she averaged 12.2 points, 3.2 rebounds, 2.5 assists and 1.8 steals
(2011).  She was honored with First-Team All-Pac-10 honors, Pac-10 All-Tournament and honorable mention Pac-10 All-Defensive honors after leading the Bruins to a 28-5 finish and school records in regular season wins (26) and Pac-10 Conference victories (16). As a junior, she led UCLA in assists and ranked fifth in the Pac-10 with 106 assists.



Wednesday, June 11
SPARKS SIGN GUARD SAMANTHA PRAHALIS

 

LOS ANGELES –Los Angeles Sparks Executive Vice President and general manager Penny Toler today announced the team has signed free agent guard Samantha Prahalis.  Per team policy, terms of the deal were not disclosed.

“Samantha is an all around point guard,” said Toler. “She is a general on the floor with excellent court vision and has the capability to knock down threes.”     

The 5-7 guard has started 30 of 39 career games in two WNBA seasons (2012,2013), including 28 games played and started during her rookie season with Phoenix.  She holds career averages of 8.8 points, 2.5 rebounds and 3.7 assists through two WNBA seasons with Phoenix and New York.

Originally drafted by the Mercury as the sixth overall pick in the 2012 WNBA Draft, she averaged 11.6 points, 4.5 assists and 3.2 rebounds during her rookie season.  She finished the season ranked first among all rookies in assists and second in scoring, behind only Rookie of the Year Nneka Ogwumike.   Last season, Prahalis played in 11 games with the Mercury and the New York Liberty.   

The 2012 Big Ten Player of the Year, Prahalis finished her four-year career at Ohio State as the Big Ten’s all-time assists leader (901) and was just the second Division I player to record 2,000 points and 900 assists in a career.  She was named to the 2012 WSBWA First Team All-American and Associated Press Second Team All-American and was a 2012 Wade Trophy, Wooden and Lieberman Award finalist.



Monday, June 2
Candice Wiggins has Knee Surgery

LOS ANGELES -- Sparks reserve guard Candice Wiggins has undergone surgery on her left knee.

The team said Monday that she had her meniscus repaired and will be out four to six weeks.

Wiggins has played in just one game so far this season, averaging no points and one assist.

She signed with the Sparks during the offseason. She has averaged double-figure scoring in four of her previous six WNBA seasons and helped Minnesota win the 2011 championship.

 



Thursday, April 3
SPARKS SIGN FREE AGENT GUARD CANDICE WIGGINS
LOS ANGELES –The Los Angeles Sparks have signed veteran free agent guard and former WNBA Champion Candice Wiggins, it was announced today by Executive Vice President and General Manager Penny Toler. Per team policy, terms of the deal were not disclosed.

“It’s been a lifelong dream of mine to play for the Sparks and I am absolutely beside myself with joy and excitement for the incredible opportunity to play in Los Angeles and bring my talent back to California,” said Wiggins. “I'm ready to do whatever it takes to win and bring a WNBA Championship to the city of Los Angeles, and I know this era will truly be a Magic-al one. I’d also like to thank the Shock organization and the wonderful Tulsa fans for an incredible experience last season, it was truly special and unforgettable.”

The 2011 WNBA Champion joins the Sparks for her seventh WNBA season after spending the past six seasons with the Tulsa Shock (2013) and Minnesota Lynx (2008-2012). Acquired by Tulsa in a trade with Minnesota on March 1, 2013, Wiggins started 31 of 32 games played with the Shock, the most starts of her WNBA career. Playing under then head coach and current Sparks assistant coach Gary Kloppenburg, she averaged 10.1 points and a team-high 27.4 minutes per game.

“We are very excited about the addition of Candice Wiggins to the Sparks,” said Toler. “An explosive player at both ends of the court, she will be able to spread the defense as well as defend the best guards on opposing teams. She is a fierce competitor with championship experience and we look forward to having her in Los Angeles.”

The 5-11 guard has averaged double-figures in scoring in four of her six WNBA seasons, including a career-high 15.7 points per game (30 games) during her rookie season in Minnesota (2008). The following season, she played and started all 34 games to average a 13.1 points, 2.6 assists and a career-high 2.9 minutes per game.

Drafted in 2008 as the third overall pick by the Lynx, her impressive scoring (15.7 ppg) for a non-starter was the league’s highest, earning her the WNBA’s 2008 Sixth Woman of the Year Award and a berth on the All-Rookie Team.

During Minnesota’s 2011 Championship run, Wiggins helped spark the offense off the bench in all eight playoff games, including a 10-point performance in the deciding game three of the WNBA Finals.

“I am very anxious to play with Candice,” said Sparks forward Nneka Ogwumike. “I feel, out of all my fellow Stanford women's basketball alumni, I am the only one who hasn't played with her. Now that she’s coming to Los Angeles, I have a wonderful opportunity to play with my fellow ‘Nerdie’. Candice is a spectacular player and will contribute vastly to the Sparks.”

Wiggins is the second Stanford alum on the Sparks roster, joining fellow Cardinal Nneka Ogwumike in Los Angeles. Stanford’s all-time leader in points per game (19.2 points), total points (2,629), career three-pointers made (295), career free throws made (556) and career steals (281), she is a four-time Kodak/WBCA All-American (2005-2008) and 2008 National Player of the Year. In 2008, she passed Sparks legend Lisa Leslie (2,414, USC) as the Pac-10’s all-time leading scorer.


Thursday, April 3
SPARKS SIGN FREE AGENT GUARD ARMINTIE HERRINGTON
LOS ANGELES –Los Angeles Sparks Executive Vice President and General Manager Penny Toler today announced the team has signed free agent guard Armintie Herrington. Per team policy, terms of the deal were not disclosed.

“Armintie is a veteran guard with a winning mentality,” said Toler. “She will be a solid addition who will strengthen our defensive presence in the backcourt and enhance our transition game. She is one of the top defenders in the league and will make an immediate impact on our drive to the WNBA Championship.”

A seven-year veteran, Herrington has played with the Atlanta Dream (2009-2013) and Chicago Sky (2007-2009) since being drafted third overall in the 2007 WNBA Draft by the Sky. The 2007 WNBA Rookie of the Year, she was traded to Atlanta from Chicago near the end of the 2009 season. Upon joining Atlanta with 11 games remaining in the 2009 regular season, she helped guide the team to playoff appearances in each of her five seasons with the team, including three Eastern Conference Championships (2010, 2011, 2013).

“I am really excited to have the opportunity to play for the Los Angeles Sparks and my college coach (Carol Ross),” said Herrington. “While I am very grateful for my time in Atlanta, I hope to bring that extra ‘spark’ to Los Angeles and help take the Sparks to the WNBA Finals and win the WNBA Championship. I am looking forward to the Magic era and am ready to get to work.”

The 5-9 guard has played in all 34 regular season games in five of her seven WNBA seasons, including 34 starts as a rookie (Chicago). Last season, she was named to the WNBA All-Defensive First Team and is a two-time WNBA All-Defensive Second Team (2011, 2012).

“I am so excited to get the opportunity to play with Armintie again,” said Sparks guard Lindsey Harding. “She will bring additional athleticism and defense to our team and we are lucky to have her in Los Angeles.”

Last season, she had a career-best 65 steals to rank fourth among league leaders in steals per game (2.3). Leading the Dream to the 2013 WNBA Finals, Herrington played in all eight playoff games and averaged 7.8 points, 4.5 rebounds, 2.3 assists and 1.9 steals before falling to the eventual WNBA Champion Minnesota Lynx.

Herrington played collegiate ball at Mississippi under current Sparks head coach Carol Ross. As a senior, she led the NCAA and SEC in steals (3.7 spg) and was the second leading scorer in the conference, averaging a team-high 19.1 points per game. She earned the SEC Defensive Player of the Year award in 2005 and 2007, becoming the first player in conference history to win the award twice.



Thursday, April 3
SPARKS TRADE GUARD JENNA O'HEA TO SEATTLE STORM IN EXCHANGE FOR 2015 SECOND ROUND WNBA DRAFT PICK
LOS ANGELES –Los Angeles Sparks Executive Vice President and General Manager Penny Toler announced today the team has traded guard Jenna O’Hea to Seattle in exchange for the Storm’s 2015 second round draft pick.

Signed by the Sparks as a free agent on March 31, 2011, the 6-1 guard played in 29 games last season averaging 3.0 points, 1.1 assists and 1.7 rebounds per game. In three seasons with the Sparks, O’Hea averaged 4.0 points, 1.3 rebounds and 1.3 assists in 68 games.

“We want to thank Jenna for her contributions, both on the court and in the community, during her three seasons in Los Angeles and wish her the best,” said Toler.

A member of the Australian National Team, she made her debut with the Senior National Team in 2009 and in 2010 was named to the Opals’ 2010 FIBA World Championship squad.


Monday, February 3
Magic Johnson's New L.A. Story

 

Earvin "Magic" Johnson's story speaks for itself. National champion at Michigan State. Three-time NBA Most Valuable Player. Five-time NBA champion. The Junior Sky-Hook. The emotional, inspirational 1992 NBA All-Star Game performance. The Dream Team in Barcelona. Slam-dunk member of the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame.

But, with Magic, the accomplishments didn't stop when he stepped off the floor. Neither did the story. He's now Chairman and CEO of Magic Johnson Enterprises. Part-owner of the Los Angeles Dodgers. Founder of the Magic Johnson Foundation charity.

And for WNBA fans, Johnson’s latest chapter is particularly page-turning.

On Wednesday, the Los Angeles icon produced the ultimate Hollywood ending, joining forces with Dodgers controlling owner Mark R. Walter and other local investors to swoop in at the last minute to save the day in L.A.

But unlike the make-believe magic of Tinsletown, this Magic is real, and heavily invested in a new sequel: Sparks as WNBA Champions, Part Two.

"I love to win. I hate to lose. And I am raring to go," said Johnson to WNBA.com after the big press announcement at STAPLES Center. "This town is about championships, we all know that. L.A. is about winners. And we are very excited about the players and coaching staff and front office staff here. We will build on last season -- we didn't go as far as we wanted to go -- but we can build on that."

Johnson said that, in reigning MVP Candace Parker, he has just the Leading Lady to lead the Sparks in 2014 and beyond.

"We have a good starting point with having the best women basketball player in the world in Candace Parker," said Johnson before elaborating on the 2013 WNBA MVP. "Physically, Candace has it all. She can go inside. She can go outside. She can shoot it. She can pass it. She can dribble it -- with both hands. But her knowledge of the game, her Basketball I.Q. is off the charts. Candace knows the right basketball play to make and when to make it. That ability and her ability to make her teammates better -- which is the true sign of a champion -- that is what sets Candace apart."

A longtime supporter of the WNBA, Johnson was almost giddy when discussing his personal history with the Sparks and the opportunity to lead the franchise to new glory.

"I've been a fan since the first game, I was in the arena cheering on the Sparks in their first ever game. My wife, Cookie, and I have been going to games since the beginning," Johnson reminisced. "And I think the brand here, with this franchise -- which started with Lisa Leslie and my boy Coach [Michael] Cooper who led the Sparks to championships -- is strong, and our fan base is strong and we can grow even stronger."

Chief among Johnson's goals for the Sparks is to implement a few things he's learned over time, dating back to his days with the Showtime Lakers and his current experiences with the resurgent L.A. Dodgers.

"I remember with Dr. Buss, he made Lakers games THE place to be in L.A.," said Johnson. "The fan experience of an exciting brand of basketball and winning basketball games -- and championships -- was what it was all about. And with the Dodgers, our group has taken a team that was middle of the pack in attendance and excitement, and is now among the league leaders. We will work hard to improve the fan experience for our Sparks fans, who deserve it because they are the best basketball fans in the league."

One thing you likely won't see is Magic remonstrating on the court during games.

"No, we are not micro-managers and with a great coach like Carol Ross and her staff, and our great front office, I won't be involved on that level. I'll let the excellent people we have do their thing," said Johnson. "Now, if someone asks for advice for how to do something on the court, and the coaches are fully aware and supportive of my sharing my opinion, I would do that, of course. I'm a team player and it's all about winning."

Magic Johnson and the WNBA. A pairing straight out of central casting that Sparks fans hope will end up with Candace Parker and Company walking arm-in-arm with a WNBA Championship Trophy into the sunset.

 



Wednesday, October 16
Parker Named Sportswoman of the Year

Candace Parker was named Team Sportswoman of the Year by the Women’s Sports Foundation at the 34th Annual Salute to Women in Sports Gala on Wednesday, October 16, in New York City.

Parker’s award was based on her basketball achievements between August 13, 2012 and July 31, 2013, including being a member of the Olympic gold medal winning U.S. Women’s National Basketball Team and earning All-WNBA First Team recognition. Additionally, she was named MVP of the 2013 WNBA All-Star, set a new WNBA All-Star game points record, received the ESPY for Best WNBA Player and was voted MVP of the Euroleague Women’s Final Eight.

Unable to attend, Parker expressed her appreciation for the award in a tweet, saying “Thank you @WomensSportsFdn for this huge honor. I truly respect all that your org. does to inspire girls and am truly humbled by this award!”

Parker, also the 2013 WNBA MVP, was selected by the Women’s Sports Foundation and a public voting process among a group of finalists that included: Katie Holloway, a member of the U.S. Women’s Paralympic Sitting Volleyball Team, University of Minnesota and U.S. Women’s National team hockey player Amanda Kessel and Stanford water polo player Melissa Seidman. Beach volleyball players Talita Da Rocha Antunes and Taiana Lima of Brazil and Canadian bobsledders Kaillie Humphries and Chelsea Valois were also nominated.

Olympic champion swimmer Missy Franklin was named Individual Sportswoman of the Year. The WNBA also received the Billie Jean King Contribution Award for the league’s tireless work to elevate the image of women in sports.

The Women’s Sports Foundation was founded by tennis legend Billie Jean King in 1974 and is dedicated to advancing the lives of girls and women through sports and physical activity.



Thursday, September 19
Join Us in Congratulating our Very Own Candace Parker. 2013 WNBA MVP!


Candice Wiggins of the Los Angeles Sparks named 2013 WNBA Most Valuable Player! http://ow.ly/p2tpt
Candace's Top 10 Plays: http://youtu.be/yQXPTUmZwEA

Wednesday, October 3

Candace Named Player of the Month, Nneka Named Rookie of the Month

Parker and Ogwumike Both Win Fourth Respective Monthly Awards

Los Angeles Sparks forward Candace Parker was named the Western Conference Player of the Month presented by Boost Mobile, and forward Nneka Ogwumike was named the for games played in the month of September.

Parker is being honored with the Western Conference Player of the Month presented by Boost Mobile distinction for the fourth time this season (May, June, July and September). Led by Parker, the Los Angeles Sparks have swept this honor for the 2012 season, with Kristi Toliver receiving the honor in August.

The five-year veteran from the University of Tennessee led the Sparks (24-10) to a 5-3 record in the final weeks of the regular season, seeding them second in the West going into the postseason. For the month, Parker ranked second in the league in rebounds per game (9.5), fourth in the West in shooting percentage (.523) and third in the West in scoring (16.9 ppg).

Parker was the first player in league history to receive both the WNBA MVP and Rookie of the Year awards in the same year (2008). A standout in the 2012 Olympics where she helped the U.S. Olympic Women’s Basketball Team win her second and the team’s fifth-straight gold medal, an Olympic record for traditional women’s team sports.

Highlights of Parker’s month included:
- Sept. 7 at Washington: Recorded a season-high eight assists
- Sept. 9 at New York: Double-double with 15 rebounds and 14 points
- Sept. 14 vs. Connecticut: Double-double with 23 points and 10 rebounds
- Sept. 18 vs. Phoenix: Double-double with 26 points and 11 rebounds
- Sept. 20 vs. Minnesota: Double-double with 22 points and 11 rebounds

Ogwumike paced all rookies in points (15.1 ppg), rebounds (7.3 rpg) and field goal percentage (.598). Overall, Ogwumike ranked 10th in rebounds and 14th in points. Ogwumike scored a career-high 30 points and added 11 rebounds in an 86-77 win over the Chicago Sky on Sept. 13. She finished out the regular season with a double-double (22 points and 11 rebounds) in a 92-76 win over the 2011 defending champion Minnesota Lynx on Sept. 20.

The first overall pick in the 2012 WNBA Draft presented by Boost Mobile, Ogwumike averaged 14.0 points and 7.5 rebounds for the Sparks. She also earned Rookie of the Month honors in May, July and August.

Highlights of Ogwumike’s month included: - Sept. 13 vs. Chicago: Double-double with 30 points (career high) and 11 rebounds
- Sept. 14 vs. Connecticut: 17 points, eight rebounds in 34 minutes
- Sept. 20 vs. Minnesota: Double-double with 22 points and 11 rebounds

 



   
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