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Radmanovic won't play guessing game

November 20, 2008|Broderick Turner | Turner is a Times staff writer.

For the first nine games -- and presumably for the 10th tonight -- Vladimir Radmanovic has been the starting small forward for the Lakers.

However, Coach Phil Jackson has been unwilling to commit to Radmanovic as a starter for the rest of the season.

Radmanovic's play has been spotty, at best. His shooting, supposedly his strong suit and the reason why Radmanovic is starting, has been sub-par.

Asked on Wednesday after practice about remaining in the starting lineup, Radmanovic smiled but offered little.

"I have nothing to answer," Radmanovic said.

Radmanovic is making only 34% of his shots, and 36.7% of his three-point shots.

Of the 50 shots he has taken, 30 have been three-pointers. Of the 17 shots he has made, 11 have been three-pointers.

He said he hasn't shot as well as he wants to.

"No, but obviously things have gone well [in previous seasons] and I'm just trying to get back on the right track," Radmanovic said. "When it comes to my shooting, I guess it's going to help the team more."

Radmanovic is taking only 5.5 shots per game in 22.2 minutes per game.

"I just think his teammates have to find Vladdy in positions where he can be effective," Jackson said. "And if they don't, then he's going to get a little bit anxious and sometimes shoot shots that aren't maybe a part of the best scheme for him in the game. It's all teamwork. He's a great shooter, we all know it. He's got great range. How we set him up is important."

Radmanovic said jokingly that he's not concerned about his shooting woes.

"Not yet, but 10 games into the season I'll start to get very concerned," Radmanovic said.

The 10th game is tonight, when the Lakers play the Suns in Phoenix.

Staying cool

The media formed a semi-circle around Trevor Ariza after practice, seeking an answer to a question that never came because the interview was called off by teammate Derek Fisher, who was standing next to him.

Ariza and Sasha Vujacic had an angry exchange during Tuesday's game against Chicago and had to be separated.

Ariza was all smiles after practice while Vujacic shot on the court.

Jackson talked to both players about the outburst.

"They were both subdued," Jackson said. "They understood the rationale."

Ariza was asked who his favorite teammate was. He listed off several, when Lakers assistant coach Brian Shaw, who stood nearby while Ariza talked, chimed in, "Sasha?"

"Yeah, Sasha," Ariza said, laughing.

"We preach that there's a right way to play basketball and the correct way to do it," Jackson said. "The aspect that we try to tell players is that don't take the responsibility on yourself."

Injury update

When the media was allowed into practice, Lakers center Andrew Bynum was sitting on the sideline with his left knee wrapped in ice. Bynum, who had surgery on the knee, limped toward the team huddle after practice.

Radmanovic is dealing with a left thigh contusion, Vujacic with a sprained right ankle and Fisher with rib injuries. All are expected to play tonight.

"They're not really healthy," Jackson said. "They're banged up a little bit, but that's part of what this season is about, working through injuries and getting back to as close to 100% as you can be."


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