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Vujacic gets to the point

December 29, 2008|Broderick Turner

The Lakers have a void at point guard because of an injury.

In Sasha Vujacic's eyes, he is capable of filling that role.

The Lakers have a need for a backup point guard because Jordan Farmar had surgery on his left knee for torn cartilage and will be out for eight weeks.

Vujacic pointed out he came into the NBA as a point guard.

He also pointed out how in Lakers Coach Phil Jackson's offense there is a two-guard front in which both guards can facilitate the offense.

"Phil knows that I can play at that position," Vujacic said. "I really feel comfortable and I'm excited about the opportunity."

It means Vujacic can't look for his shot first, the way he can as the shooting guard.

It means he has to run the offense and get his teammates involved.

There was a moment in the second quarter when Vujacic had the ball on a two-on-one fastbreak, when he made the right play.

Vujacic threw a behind-the-back pass to Trevor Ariza, who was fouled on the play and got two free throws because of Vujacic's pass.

Vujacic finished with six assists, his season high.

"We're giving him some minutes out there," Jackson said. "I thought that he did all right. With Lamar [Odom] back there on top of it, he's got somebody that's experienced in that role so that the two of them can co-exist."

Ball-handling duties aside, Vujacic hadn't been shooting that well this season, making only 37.7% of his three-point attempts before Sunday, a reality that led to a moment of humor from a former teammate.

"Do you guys still call him 'the Machine?' The Machine's a little broken right now, I guess," said Ronny Turiaf, who played against the Lakers on Sunday with Golden State.

As if on cue, Vujacic shot better Sunday, making four of seven shots from beyond the arc, finishing with a season-high 11 points.

He made 43.7% of his three-point attempts last season.

Turiaf's return

Turiaf played against the Lakers for the first time since signing a four-year, $17-million contract with the Warriors in July.

He was greeted warmly by fans when he entered the game near the end of the first quarter, and he answered with equal parts sadness and understanding when discussing his departure from the Lakers.

Turiaf was a restricted free agent when he signed an offer sheet with Golden State, giving the Lakers a week to match it.

The Lakers decided against it, figuring Turiaf would have had trouble finding minutes in a frontcourt with Pau Gasol, Andrew Bynum and Odom.

"As a human being, you hurt because you feel like 'Oh, they weren't willing to give me that [contract]' " said Turiaf, who didn't score and had one rebound in 20 minutes. "But as a businessman, you understand that they had to make a choice. They had to look at the energy guy that's trying to do whatever he can to help the team, or they were trying to keep Sasha to help spread the floor."

Turiaf, 25, is averaging 4.2 points, 3.2 rebounds and 2.2 blocked shots, which is fourth in the league.

He averaged 6.6 points, 3.9 rebounds and 1.2 blocked shots last season for the Lakers.

Times staff writer Mike Bresnahan contributed to this report.


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