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LAKERS FYI

After trade from Lakers, Radmanovic comes into his own with Charlotte

Last month, the Lakers acquired Adam Morrison and Shannon Brown from the Charlotte Bobcats for Radmanovic. Lakers Coach Phil Jackson says he is missed.

March 31, 2009|Mike Bresnahan

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Ahhh, Charlotte, where worlds collide and careers are changed forever.

Well, at least for Adam Morrison and Vladimir Radmanovic.

Last month, the Lakers acquired Morrison and Shannon Brown from the Charlotte Bobcats for Radmanovic, a move that saved the Lakers about $17 million in salary and luxury taxes.

Radmanovic was vilified by fans while playing for the Lakers because of his inconsistency, but Lakers Coach Phil Jackson said Monday that Radmanovic was missed by the team.

"He's a qualified player. He can do things, he's going to have an impact on ballgames," Jackson said. "We miss him, there's no doubt about it. But that's it -- water under the bridge, you move on."

Radmanovic will play for sure tonight against the Lakers because he has solidified a spot in the Bobcats' rotation as a reserve.

Morrison, however, has not cracked the Lakers' rotation and might not play against the team that made him the third pick in the 2006 draft.

With Morrison back in town, Bobcats Coach Larry Brown said his former player was "never comfortable here" and was getting increasingly frustrated.

"As the season progressed, I sensed it," Brown told the Charlotte Observer. "You'd hear some things in the crowd and see him react. So I had some talks with him and that's when I realized it. He said all along he's never felt comfortable here.

"He told me everybody had high expectations. When you're the third pick in the draft, that's just the way it is -- it's not going to change. Hopefully with a year under him [elsewhere], he'll fill his potential."

Radmanovic has seen his statistics go up with an increase in playing time. He is averaging 9.3 points and 22 minutes a game, up from the 5.9 points and 16.8 minutes he was averaging with the Lakers this season.

Morrison, on the other hand, has scored 10 points in five games with the Lakers.

Morrison said he was getting more comfortable with the Lakers' offense, but wouldn't be pushing Jackson to get into tonight's game.

"I don't mess with Phil," he said.

If he did enter the game, what would be the reaction of Bobcats fans?

"It's hard to say," Morrison said. "Hopefully it's kind but if not, I'll understand, I guess."

Morrison averaged 11.8 points a game as a rookie but missed last season because of a torn anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee. He averaged 4.5 points a game this season with the Bobcats before being traded.

Piece of cake?

In need of an easy victory after one of their worst efforts of the season, the Lakers will find one tonight against the hapless Bobcats.

Or, well, maybe not.

The Bobcats are 5-4 against the Lakers since their 2004 inception, including a 117-110 double-overtime victory at Staples Center in January.

Furthermore, the Bobcats (33-40) have played well while pursuing the eighth and final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference, winning 11 of their last 16 games.

And, by the way, the Lakers have lost four of their last five games against the Bobcats.

Easy victory tonight? Not necessarily.

The Lakers could use a pick-me-up after an 86-76 loss Sunday in Atlanta, but . . .

"They play us very, very tough," Kobe Bryant said of the Bobcats. "They're very physical, very quick at all positions. They're long at all positions. They really get up when they face us."

--

mike.bresnahan@latimes.com

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