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Sasha Vujacic says he's ready to crank up the Machine

Only being allotted 'garbage time' isn't helping him to raise the level of his play, the Lakers guard says.

December 02, 2009|By Broderick Turner

So, Lakers guard Sasha Vujacic, where is "The Machine"?

"The Machine is here," Vujacic said. "I'm just not playing."

OK, then, why aren't you playing?

"I don't know," Vujacic responded. Coach Phil Jackson "has a group right now that he's playing. I'm just going to try to be patient."

Mostly, Vujacic has found himself in games when they already have been decided. That's an issue for him.

"I play a couple of games in garbage time," Vujacic said. "That's not where I see myself. I don't really like to play in garbage time."

Vujacic was known for his shooting. That's why he was given the nickname the Machine, for his shooting exploits during the 2007-08 season.

He was rewarded with a three-year, $15-million deal during the summer of 2008.

But the Machine has not been seen since then. His shooting average and scoring dropped last season, and he's doing even worse this season.

Vujacic is averaging 2.1 points this season, a career low. He's averaging 7.9 minutes per game, also a career low. He's making 32.5% of his shots, the worst of his career since his rookie season.

It bothers Vujacic that his minutes are down, which, in his eyes, is a big reason why he's not playing better. "Of course I want to play," Vujacic said. "It's not fun to be on the bench, but we are winning. I'm happy for the team.

"Sometimes when you don't play, it's hard. It kills you inside, but you've got to be positive."

Odom plays his game

Everybody wants Lamar Odom to shoot the basketball more, to be more aggressive. Both his Lakers' teammates and his coaches have insisted that he be more offensive-minded, especially now that he is the leader of the Lakers' inconsistent bench.

But what does Odom want?

"Getting rebounds, assists and moving the ball is important, I think, with that second group," Odom said. "I always make it my attention to do that first, rather than just shoot."

Odom is averaging 8.8 points, 8.6 rebounds and 4.6 assists this season.

But since becoming a reserve five games ago, Odom is averaging just 6.2 points. Odom says he looks to get his bench mates involved before he looks to score.

"That's one of the reasons why we're such a good team, because they're great offensive players," Odom said. "Not saying they don't do anything else, but they are amazing offensive players."

Nets looking at history

If you're the Dallas Mavericks and you consider yourself a playoff-quality team, do you want to be known as the first team to lose this season to the lowly New Jersey Nets?

And make no mistake. The Mavericks are a good team, a team with a 13-5 record that is in first place in the Southwest Division.

The Nets are winless, having lost their first 17 consecutive games, tying the record held by the Clippers and Miami Heat for the most losses to start an NBA season.

New Jersey fired Coach Lawrence Frank before it played the Lakers on Sunday. Frank will be replaced by Nets General Manager Kiki Vandeweghe, who will coach the team for the rest of the season starting Thursday, after the Mavericks-Nets game.

If the Mavericks beat the Nets on Wednesday night in New Jersey, the Nets would set the low-water mark for the worst start in NBA history with 18 straight losses.

broderick.turner@latimes.com

twitter.com/BA_Turner

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