GAMEDAY LINKS: Team Q1 Q2 Q3 Q4 Final
Box Score Minnesota Timberwolves 27 24 23 24 98
Play by Play Los Angeles Lakers 21 28 29 28 106

Lakers hold off lowly Wolves for 11th win in 12


LOS ANGELES (AP) Pau Gasol scored 25 points, Kobe Bryant added 18 on his sprained left ankle, and the Los Angeles Lakers overcame Andrew Bynum's fourth-quarter ejection to beat the Minnesota Timberwolves for the 15th straight time, 106-98 on Friday night.

Bynum had 10 points and 14 rebounds before getting tossed with 6:16 to play for a flagrant foul against Michael Beasley, who crashed to the floor after Bynum clobbered him on a drive.

Despite a rusty return from a three-day break, Los Angeles has won 11 of 12 since All-Star weekend.

Wes Johnson scored a career-high 29 points for the Timberwolves, who have lost 14 of 18. Beasley scored 18 points before leaving with apparent hip pain from Bynum's foul.

The Lakers (49-20), who have lost only to Miami since the All-Star break, also opened a one-game lead over Dallas (48-21) for second place in the Western Conference standings. Los Angeles was unable to wrap up the formality of its fourth straight Pacific Division title because Phoenix beat Golden State.

Yet the Lakers barely held off the lowly Timberwolves, who led for most of the first three quarters and went in front again in the final 4 minutes.

Beasley and Matt Barnes argued vehemently after Bynum's flagrant foul, with teammates and officials separating them. Beasley got a technical foul for the exchange - and after he hobbled off the floor in pain moments later, Martell Webster's skull collided with Bryant's jaw while Webster drew a foul and made a jumper, sending Bryant facedown to the floor in pain.

That collision finally sparked the Lakers, who already have lost this season to Sacramento and Cleveland - two of the three NBA teams with poorer records than the Timberwolves.

Bryant immediately hit an 18-foot jumper, and Los Angeles made a 13-3 run highlighted by a 3-pointer with 2:33 to play by Lamar Odom, who scored eight points.

Bryant sprained his left ankle during last week's win at Dallas, but played through it in Monday's victory over Orlando before resting the past three days. The rest didn't appear to help as Bryant missed his first six shots before returning late from the locker room at halftime, likely while getting treatment.

Bryant still hit back-to-back 3-pointers in the final minute of the first half, trimming Los Angeles' halftime deficit to 51-49. Shannon Brown, who scored 14 points, then played the first 5 1/2 minutes before Bryant re-entered the game.

Ron Artest also missed his first six shots, but engaged in an entertaining duel with Beasley in both defense and trash-talking.

Johnson surpassed his previous career high with 2:10 left in the third quarter, but Bryant led a 10-4 run to take a 78-74 lead into the fourth. Johnson managed just two points in the final period.

NOTES: Minnesota hasn't beaten the Lakers since March 6, 2007. ... Johnson had 20 points and eight rebounds in the Wolves' loss to the Lakers in Minneapolis on March 1. ... The Lakers also have won 10 straight home games against the Timberwolves. ... Fans near courtside included the Beach Boys' Brian Wilson and Mike Love, Stacy Keibler and

Copyright 2011 by STATS LLC and Associated Press. Any commercial use or distribution without the express written consent of STATS LLC and Associated Press is strictly prohibited

35 Shooting percentage for Kobe Bryant, bothered by a sore left ankle that he rolled last Saturday at Dallas. "I thought his timing was off," said Phil Jackson. "His shooting was off. But his effort was good." Jackson added that he didn't think Bryant would miss any time, as usual, even if he's clearly not at 100 percent. After the game, Bryant said his neck was also really hurting him (he'd banged heads with Minnesota's Martell Webster), but he guaranteed he'd play on Sunday against Portland.

27 Career high in points reached by Timberwolves rookie Wes Johnson, who made 11-of-21 field goals to lead all scorers.

25 Points for Pau Gasol on an efficient 12-of-17 shooting line, plus five boards and a game-high four blocked shots. "Pau kind of carried us, kept us going," said Jackson.

15 Straight wins for the Lakers over the Wolves.

1 Ejection in a game that randomly turned intense in the fourth quarter, as Andrew Bynum got tossed for a flagrant two foul of Michael Beasley. Whether or not a suspension

0.5 Games needed by L.A. to clinch the Pacific Division. Either a Lakers win or Suns loss would do the trick.

View More Photos

Points Gasol 25, 12-17 FG
Rebounds Bynum 14, 7 OFF 7 DEF
Assists Bryant, Odom 5
Steals Artest 3
Blocks Gasol 4


Lakers coach Phil Jackson on tonight's performance:
"It was a difficult game. We kind of anticipated it. The first half was erratic at best; second half we played a little bit better."

Lakers coach Phil Jackson on Andrew Bynum's Flagrant 2:
"…He was going to go block the shot but he was too late so he just bumped him, just gave up on the ball…he didn't do it in a way that was malicious. He just stopped [Beasley's] penetration, but Andrew looks bad and [Beasley] fell hard."

Lakers coach Phil Jackson on Kobe Bryant not starting the second half:
"Kobe was detained."

Lakers coach Phil Jackson on the significance of moving into sole position of second place in the Western Conference:
"The significance will be if we have a chance to beat them at home. That will be a real head on head-on opportunity to not only take the series setting but it will also have an opportunity to step ahead of them maybe at that time."

Lakers coach Phil Jackson on the remainder of the season:
"We're just trying to focus. Portland, Phoenix those are the next two down the road here at home. We want to bring our game back, elevate our game again."

Lakers coach Phil Jackson on Kobe Bryant's health:
"We'll talk about it tomorrow. I'm sure he's going to say no. We'll definitely talk about it and see exactly how he's doing and if there's anything bothering him [physically] about tonight's game."

Lakers' guard Kobe Bryant on his head-to-head collision with Martell Webster:
"It was in my jaw, but my jaw is fine. I can take a hit. It was just that my neck snapped back. My neck is pretty stiff right now."

Lakers' guard Kobe Bryant on his injured ankle throughout the game:

"It was okay. It was a little stiff, so I had to stretch it out a little bit. It was alright.

Lakers' guard Kobe Bryant on playing through his injured ankle:
"I just had to get my rhythm, really. I haven't practiced for the last three days or shoot or do anything. So I kind of had Bambi legs out there a little bit. I just had to get my rhythm down. But I'm okay."

Lakers' guard Kobe Bryant on Andrew Bynum's flagrant foul:
"He committed a hard foul. He did what a big guy is supposed to do, protect the paint."

Lakers' guard Derek Fisher on tonight's game:
"They play us tough almost every time we face this team. Obviously, with Kurt Rambis being the coach, I think they have some understanding of what we're trying to do offensively and defensively. They do a good job of executing their offense and making it hard for us to slow them down."

Lakers' guard Derek Fisher on Andrew Bynum's flagrant foul:
"It was just guys competing. The game had been really hotly contested the entire night, and sometimes the calls don't go your way in terms of if it was a flagrant foul or not. Andrew is not the type of person to ever try to hurt anyone but I think he was just trying to make a play to help us out. It was just an emotional game."

Lakers' guard Derek Fisher on Kobe's performance with his injure ankle and his limited playing time:
"He's had limited ability to be on his feet since he hurt it. It's tough not to be able to do the same things you do to prepare every game and come out and just play in the game. But I think he's just trying to be a captain and be a leader and make himself available for us. He's still a threat out on the floor even if he's not 100 percent."

Lakers' forward Pau Gasol on moving into second place in the Western Conference:
"Well there's 13 games to go for us. There's still many tough games for us to get and keep getting better. At this point, you're just trying to win as many as you can and hopefully that will translate into a good position as far as the standings, and just get ready for the next part [playoffs].

Lakers' forward Pau Gasol on the physical game tonight:
"It was just a random play. I mean, it was just a drive to the basket, and he [Bynum] got him [Michael Beasley] and he fell awkward...he didn't get hurt hopefully. I don't think it got terribly chippy out there."

Lakers' forward Pau Gasol on Kobe Bryant's ankle and how it affects the duo's on-court chemistry:
"I mean it obviously shows once again how tough he is and how much he's willing to play no matter what. It's a bad sprain and he's out there fighting and competing as hard as he can, so that doesn't affect our chemistry or our understanding when we're out there at all."

Lakers' forward Lamar Odom on Bynum's flagrant foul play:
"It was just a basketball play. Players jump in the air and they loose control when they get hit. Sometimes, it looks a little worse than it is."

Lakers' forward Lamar Odom on Kobe's play tonight on his injured ankle:
"He's going to take his time. He still hit some big shots. Hopefully, he'll get some treatment and get better."

Timberwolves Coach Kurt Rambis on how physical the game got tonight:
"That's playoff basketball, they're gearing up for it. I thought it was good for our guys to see how rough and physical a game can be, that's a good thing for our learning experience. I thought our guys did a really good job when the ball came, offensively and defensively we played a very mindful game for the most part and gave ourselves a chance to win."

Timberwolves Coach Kurt Rambis on the flagrant foul called against Andrew Bynum:

"Those are judgment calls by the referees. Unfortunately, Michael [Beasley] got hurt on it and had to come out of the ball game because of it, but I know Andrew, he wasn't going up to do anything malicious, he was just going up to protect the basket. So I think he was making a good basketball play out of it."

Timberwolves Coach Kurt Rambis on the extent of Michael Beasley's injury:

"His hip is very sore. I don't know anything more than that. I know they took X-rays, but I don't know anything more about that, or what the X-rays showed."

Timberwolves Coach Kurt Rambis on Wesley Johnson's defense against Kobe Bryant:
"Well, he gets up for the challenge. They have a relationship, so I know Kobe talks to him, things that Wes can work on offensively and defensively. You could see that Wes was really geared up for this ball game, to take the individual challenge defensively, which is a very tough assignment, he's one of the greatest players to ever play the game. But, I thought Wes did a really good job of, for the most part, taking shots at his rhythm and got himself going in the ball game and stayed with him. He had a good ball game."

Michael Beasley on the game tonight:
"..They are getting ready for the playoffs. That's the kind of basketball you have to get used to playing. "

Wesley Johnson on if his performance is a difference in his normal routine:
"I just went out there and felt good. I had a nice rhythm going and I just stayed real poise and confident out there."

Wesley Johnson on what it's like going up against Kobe Bryant:
"That's what you want, you want to go against the best. Playing against him, it brings out the best in a lot of people. It's definitely good coming out here and playing against him, I really wanted to go out there."



The Los Angeles Lakers may be able to clinch another Pacific Division crown Friday night. Of course, that's not too meaningful to the two-time defending NBA champions.

The Lakers should be able to ease into their return from a three-day break between games as they look to defeat the Minnesota Timberwolves for the 15th straight time.

Los Angeles (48-20) can clinch a fourth straight division title with a victory and a loss Friday by Phoenix to Golden State. It's not surprising that the Lakers aren't concerned about winning the Pacific.

"Winning your division means you are on top but we have bigger goals in mind," forward Pau Gasol said.

The Lakers, tied with Dallas for the second-best record in the Western Conference, have not played since opening a seven-game homestand with Monday's 97-84 win over Orlando.

Coach Phil Jackson's club has won 10 of 11, and he wants that level of play to continue over the last 14 games of the season.

"We always talk about the fact that you have to save some energy and have a build-up at the end of the season," Jackson said. "You can't do that with a team that's not playoff-bound or of championship quality, you have to push them from the start, and this team understands that this is the time to push it to get ready for what remains of this season and the postseason."

Kobe Bryant did not practice Wednesday as he continues to rest his sprained ankle. It won't prevent him from playing, although it may be some time before he's at 100 percent.

"It's still an ankle that's badly sprained," Jackson said. "He's got to be doing therapy a lot."

Bryant is shooting 35.0 percent and averaging 18.7 points over his last three games.

Minnesota (17-52) should not pose much of a threat Friday. The Timberwolves have dropped their last two games by an average of 19.0 points, allowing Utah to shoot 54.8 percent in a 119-104 loss Wednesday.

"They just sliced us apart," coach Kurt Rambis said. "Whenever a team gets 60-plus points in the paint scored on you, you don't give yourself a very good chance."

The Timberwolves have not beaten the Lakers since March 6, 2007, and have lost nine straight in the series at Staples Center.

Los Angeles is 3-0 in the season series, winning by an average of 14.0 points in two road games. The lone matchup at Staples Center was a 99-94 victory despite former UCLA star Kevin Love's 24 points and 23 rebounds.

Love's 53-game streak of double-doubles ended in the opener of this three-game trip Sunday against Golden State. He could find it difficult inside Friday because of how Lakers center Andrew Bynum is playing.

Bynum has posted four straight double-doubles and is averaging 15.8 rebounds over his last six games.

"Some nights he's got to score," Jackson said. "He's got the hands that can make the games different. But every night he can change it with rebounding and defense."

Copyright 2011 by STATS LLC and Associated Press. Any commercial use or distribution without the express written consent of STATS LLC and Associated Press is strictly prohibited

Game Announcements
  • Spero Dedes will not be announcing tonight's game. In his place, Bill MacDonald will be calling the game on 710 ESPN with Mychal Thompson.

Lakers Kobe Bryant (sprained left ankle) is questionable.
Devin Ebanks (stress fracture, left tibia) is out.
Theo Ratliff (left knee surgery) is out.


11/09 - MIN @ LAL W 99-94
11/19 - LAL @ MIN W 112-95
03/01 - LAL @ MIN W 90-79
03/18 - MIN @ LAL

The key to tonight's game is the first quarter. In games that the Wolves have early offensive success they can be difficult to deal with. If they are able to get into an offensive flow then their confidence grows and that is especially true for a young team on the road. If we do not allow them to get easy points off of our turnovers and off of their effort in the second chance points department then we should be in good shape. Martell Webster is back from an injury and we should remember that he is a shooter with seemingly unlimited range so we must be ready to contest his shots.

Read Full Scouting Report @ Lakers Courtside Connection


The Lakers lead their current season series with Minnesota 3-0 after sweeping each of the last three season series with the Timberwolves (2009-10: 3-0, 2008-09: 4-0, 2007- 08 3-0). The two teams have met 83 times in the regular season, with the Lakers holding a 62-21 advantage. At STAPLES Center, the Lakers are 18-4 all-time against the Timberwolves, 9-1 in their last 10 home games and have won their last nine straight in Los Angeles. In Minnesota, the Lakers are 8-2 in their last 10 road games and have won seven straight at Target Center. Under head coach Phil Jackson, the Lakers are 29-12 against Minnesota. In 51 career games including 43 starts, Kobe Bryant is averaging 23.5 points versus Minnesota. In 2007, Bryant scored 50 points 3/18/07 vs. MIN, becoming the first Laker since Elgin Baylor in December of 1962 to post consecutive 50-point games as well as the first player since Wilt Chamberlain in 1963 to follow a 60-plus point scoring night with 50-plus points. Additionally, Bryant's 50-point effort matched Cedric Ceballos' series record 50-point game posted on December 20, 1994. Minnesota head coach Kurt Rambis played nine seasons with the Lakers, averaging 4.9 points and 5.5 rebounds in 569 games while winning four NBA Championships ('82,'85,'87,'88). Most recently, Rambis served as an assistant coach on Phil Jackson's bench from 2001-04 and 2005-09, helping lead the team to two NBA titles (2002, '09). Timberwolves assistant coach Dave Wohl served as a Lakers assistant coach in Rambis' playing days on Pat Riley's staff from 1982-85. Minnesota forward Kevin Love played collegiately at UCLA. Additionally, the Lakers and Timberwolves have met twice in the postseason (2003 First Round, 2004 Conference Finals). The Lakers defeated the Wolves 4-2 both times despite Minnesota holding home-court advantage in both series.

With the Lakers win at Dallas on March 12th, Phil Jackson earned his 600th career regular season victory in Los Angeles. Jackson is now the fifth coach in NBA history to win at least 600 games with one franchise, joining Jerry Sloan (1,127 with Utah), Red Auerbach (795 with Boston), Gregg Popovich (790 with San Antonio) and Red Holzman (613 with New York). Including Jackson, only 22 coaches in NBA history have won 600 career regular season games, let alone with one franchise. Jackson, who established the Lakers franchise record for regular season coaching wins in February of 2010 (534th victory 2/3/10 vs. Charlotte), is the only coach in league history to win better than 70 percent of his games (1,146-480, .705). He currently ranks 5th all-time in regular season victories, 11th in regular season games coached, 1st in playoff games coached (323), 1st in playoff games won (225) and 1st in playoff win percentage (.697). The fastest coach to 1,100 victories, Jackson earned induction in his first year of consideration for the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame and was enshrined on September 7, 2007.

In the Lakers March 8th victory at Atlanta, Andrew Bynum posted 16 points, 16 rebounds and three blocked shots but despite that physical performance, did not attempt a free throw. In doing so, Bynum was the first Lakers' player in more than 25 years to register at least 15 points, 15 rebounds and three blocks in a regular-season or playoff game in which he did not go to the charity stripe. The last Laker to post a similar performance without going to the foul line was Kareem Abdul-Jabbar in Game Two of the 1985 NBA Finals at Boston (30 points, 17 rebounds and three blocks in a 109-102 win).*

Just over a week removed from passing Elvin Hayes (27,313) for 7th on the NBA's all-time scoring list 2/27 at Oklahoma City, Kobe Bryant passed Moses Malone (27,409) for 6th on the all-time list with a free throw in the second quarter of the Lakers 3/8 victory at Atlanta. Earlier this season, Bryant moved past Hall-of-Famers Hakeem Olajuwon (26,946) 1/28 vs. Sacramento, Oscar Robertson (26,710) 1/7 vs. New Orleans, Dominique Wilkins (26,668) 1/4 vs. Detroit and John Havlicek (26,395) 12/10 at Chicago on the all-time list. Next on the all-time list ahead of Bryant (27,479) are Shaquille O'Neal (5th/28,590), Wilt Chamberlain (4th/31,419), Michael Jordan (3rd/32,292), Karl Malone (2nd/36,928) and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (1st/38,387). Among the top six scorers in NBA history, five have worn the Lakers uniform.

Bryant has been steadily moving up the list over the past few years. Earlier this season, with 23 points at Chicago (12/10/10), he passed John Havlicek (26,395) for 11th. Last season, he passed Alex English (25,613), Reggie Miller (25,279), Jerry West (25,192), Patrick Ewing (24,815) and Allen Iverson (24,368). In passing West with a slam dunk at the 4:14 mark of the third quarter February 1, 2010 at Memphis, finishing the game with 44 points (West's retired number), Bryant became the leading scorer in Lakers franchise history. In 2008-09, Bryant passed Gary Payton (21,813) and Hall-of-Famers Charles Barkley (23,757), Robert Parish (23,334), Adrian Dantley (23,177), Elgin Baylor (23,149), Clyde Drexler (22,195) and Larry Bird (21,791).

In their victory over the Spurs on March 6th at AT&T Center, the Lakers closed out the first quarter with a 26-5 run to take a 34-13 lead en route to a 99-83 victory against San Antonio. This marked only the second time in the Spurs' 36 seasons in the NBA that they were outscored by more than 20 points in the first quarter of a home game. The first was a 122-117 overtime loss to the Rockets in January 1989. Additionally, the Lakers increased their lead to 28 at the half, the first time in which the Spurs have ever trailed by at least 28 points at the half at home in franchise history. The last time the Spurs were down by 28+ points at the half in any game was January 20, 1990 at Denver (Nuggets 69, Spurs 40).*

The Lakers also outscored the Spurs by 29 points with Tim Duncan on the floor, his worst plus/minus since posting a -29 against the Lakers on November 28, 2003. Duncan finished 1-for-7 from the field for the second time this season, the other coming 12/28 against the Lakers as well. Prior to this season, Duncan had only two home games in his entire career in which he had one field goal or less. (ESPN Stats & Information).

Kobe Bryant's 24 points in the Lakers victory over the Clippers (2/25) took him over the 1,500-point mark for the 11th consecutive season, marking the longest such streak by an NBA player since Karl Malone reached that milestone in 12 straight seasons (1986-87 to 1997-98).*

On February 21st, Kobe Bryant was named MVP of the 60th NBA All-Star Game at STAPLES Center in Los Angeles, CA. With a game-high 37 points, game-high 14 rebounds, three assists and three steals, Bryant's MVP performance tied him with Bob Pettit (4) for the most NBA All-Star Game MVP awards in league history, surpassing Michael Jordan, Shaquille O'Neal and Oscar Robertson (3). In earning the honor, Bryant became the 7th player in the last 44 years to be named MVP of an All-Star game that was played in his own home arena, joining Jerry West (1972, Great Western Forum), Michael Jordan (1988, Chicago Stadium), Karl Malone & John Stockton (co-MVPs in 1993, Delta Center) and Shaquille O'Neal, who did it twice (2004, STAPLES Center & 2009, US Airways Center). Bryant's 37 points were tied for the 4th most points scored in All-Star Game history with Kevin Garnett (2003), trailing only Wilt Chamberlain (42 points, 1962), Jordan (40 points, 1988) and Rick Barry (38 points, 1967).

Additionally, Bryant's 37-point night and Kevin Durant's 34-point effort marked just the second time that two All-Stars on the same team scored 30-or-more points in the same game. The only other time that happened was in the 1977 game when Julius Erving and Bob McAdoo each scored 30 points for the Eastern Conference. Also, Bryant and Tim Duncan appeared on the same side in an All-Star game for the 12th time on Sunday night, marking the most appearances in an All-Star game as teammates for any two players in NBA history, surpassing Dolph Schayes and Bob Cousy (11 All-Star appearances as teammates).*

With an All-Star Game career-high 17 points (8-13 FG), seven rebounds and two blocks, Pau Gasol helped the West hang on down the stretch for a 148-143 victory over the East in the 60th NBA All-Star Game at STAPLES Center. Logging the most minutes of any Eastern or Western Conference reserve (24:22), Gasol posted the game's second highest plus/minus with +10, equaling Atlanta guard Joe Johnson's +10 and one behind Denver forward Carmelo Anthony's +11 on the night.


Entering the Lakers game vs. Minnesota, Derek Fisher has played in 481 consecutive regular season games dating back to April 15, 2005, the longest consecutive games streak among all active NBA players. Fisher moved into the top position after Portland's Andre Miller (632) missed the Blazers game against Phoenix (12/7/10) due to NBA suspension. Additionally, Fisher has started 359 consecutive regular season games dating back to January 15, 2007, tops among all active players by more than a season's worth of games (2nd – Luis Scola). Former Laker A.C. Green holds the NBA record for most consecutive games played with 1,192 dating from 11/19/86 – 4/18/01 while a member of the Lakers, Phoenix Suns, Dallas Mavericks and Miami Heat.

GASOL'S 30/20
With 30 points (8-15 FG, 14-14 FT) and 20 rebounds February 16th at Cleveland, Pau Gasol posted the first 30-point/20-rebound game of his career while becoming the 10th Laker in franchise history ever to do so, joining Shaquille O'Neal (10), Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (19), Happy Hairston (1), Wilt Chamberlain (21), Rudy LaRusso (1), Elgin Baylor (77), Larry Foust (1), Clyde Lovellette (1) and George Mikan (10) in the 30/20 club (number in parentheses is with Lakers only). The last Laker to record a 30/20 game prior to Gasol was Shaquille O'Neal, who posted 31 points and 26 rebounds in an overtime victory over Milwaukee on March 21st, 2004.

With their 104-80 victory vs. Atlanta on February 22nd, the Lakers recorded their league-leading NINTH wire-to-wire win of the season. Getting to seven wire-to-wire victories in just 39 games matched the Lakers regular season total from all of last season, while their eighth in 46 games surpassed that total. This season, the Lakers (9), Celtics (9) and Nuggets (9) lead the NBA in wire-to-wire victories, followed by the Spurs (8) and Heat (7) through games played 3/15/11. The Lakers other wire-to-wire victories this season came against the Warriors (10/31 vs. GS, 11/21 vs. GS), Grizzlies (11/2 vs. MEM), Wizards (12/7 vs. WAS), Pacers (12/15 @ IND), 76ers (12/31 vs. PHI), Cavaliers (1/11 vs. CLE) and Jazz (1/25 vs. Utah). Last year, the Lakers claimed NINE wire-to-wire victories (games in which they never trailed); seven during the regular season and two during the 2010 Playoffs (4/18 & 4/27 vs. Oklahoma City). During their previous championship run in 2008-09, the Lakers claimed 11 wire-to-wire victories; nine during the regular season and two during the 2009 Playoffs (4/29 vs. Utah & 5/17 vs. Houston). Last season, the Lakers also lost twice in wire-to-wire fashion (98-107 1/8/10 @ POR and 75-91 3/26/10 @ OKC).

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