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Vujacic can't make a big stop

June 13, 2008|Mike Bresnahan | Times Staff Writer

Sasha Vujacic went from the toast of the town to getting toasted, a snapshot of the Lakers' stunning fall Thursday in Game 4.

His 20-point effort in Game 3 saved their series, but his failure to stop Ray Allen on a game-deciding drive symbolized the final breakdown for the Lakers in a 97-91 loss to Boston.

In an isolation play that started above the three-point line, Allen drove past Vujacic and scored on a left-handed layup to give the Celtics a 96-91 lead with 16.4 seconds to play.

"I wanted to stay with him and I wanted to play him aggressive, but . . . there would be a foul, so I kind of stepped back and gave him the room to operate and he went to the basket," Vujacic said. "So that was the defensive decision on my side."

The Lakers immediately called a timeout. Someone behind the bench offered a reassuring gesture by briefly rubbing Vujacic's shoulder after he sat down, but Vujacic sharply threw an elbow before throwing a towel on his head.

Vujacic said he was not expecting help on the play.

"Doesn't matter, help or not," he said. "With him, I was supposed to be more aggressive and not let him break the top of the key. Tomorrow I can re-watch the game and there's nothing to say about it. It's a tough loss. It hurts."

Vujacic finished with three points on one-for-nine shooting.

Only halfway there

Lamar Odom got half of it right.

He was unstoppable in the first half, the main reason the Lakers led by as many as 24 points.

Then came the second half, Odom mirroring the Lakers' slow tumble into a two-quarter abyss.

He had 15 points and eight rebounds in the first half, but only four points and two rebounds in the second half.

"I don't know what to say," Odom said. "We could talk about everything they did right. It's obvious. It's hard to talk right now."

Odom had been averaging only 9.3 points through the first three Finals games.

Soft or not?

Lakers Coach Phil Jackson was asked before Game 4 if the word "soft" would apply to Pau Gasol.

"I think that that would be a reputation that Pau came to us with. I think that's one of the reasons perhaps we were fortunate enough to get him in the [trade] situation is that perhaps that had been carried with him, that perhaps he was not a center, he was more of a forward type of player," Jackson said.

"He wasn't tough enough or powerful enough to be a center. But he's constantly risen to the occasion in every series that we've gone through this year."

Gasol had 17 points and 10 rebounds in Game 4, a considerably better effort than his nine-point performance in Game 3, but not nearly enough to help the Lakers out of their second-half funk.


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