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In a limited role, Sasha Vujacic tries to stay positive.

LAKERS

Vujacic is now the fifth guard in the Lakers' rotation, losing minutes to Shannon Brown.

January 28, 2010|By Broderick Turner

Reporting from Indianapolis — He has been told that his role might be limited, something that was not the case for Lakers guard Sasha Vujacic the two previous seasons.

It happened again Wednesday night, when Vujacic played a little more than 3 1/2 minutes against the Indiana Pacers.

The key, Lakers Coach Phil Jackson pointed out, will be how Vujacic performs when he is on the court and his demeanor during this time.

"It's disappointing to him," Jackson said.

Vujacic played a career-high 17.8 minutes during the 2007-08 season and averaged a career-best 8.8 points. He averaged 16.2 minutes and 5.8 points last season.

This season, Vujacic was averaging 7.5 minutes and 2.3 points before Wednesday night's game.

Vujacic is basically the fifth guard in the rotation, playing behind starters Kobe Bryant and Derek Fisher and reserves Jordan Farmar and Shannon Brown, who has taken over the role once reserved for Vujacic.

"The thing is, P.J. [Jackson] knows what I can do," Vujacic said. "Obviously we are playing a different kind of basketball and we all know that. The rotations are doing good and we are playing just different than before.

"In the beginning, it was kind of unexplainable. But I talked to P.J. a couple of times. I've just got to stay ready. There's no reason to get down. If you get down, when you go in, you're not going to do what you are supposed to do. So I just try to stay positive."

Vujacic had three points and two assists against the Pacers.

"I tell him that's really all you can do right now is do what you are chosen to do and not worry about what you can't control and you'll have the opportunities and it'll come back to you," Jackson said.

Vujacic first entered the game with 9.4 seconds left in the second quarter and the score tied at 56-56.

Bryant penetrated and passed to Vujacic in the corner. Vujacic quickly whipped the ball to Lamar Odom for a three-pointer that gave the Lakers a 59-56 halftime lead.

Vujacic turned to the Lakers' bench, his fist balled, a smile on his face, knowing that he had contributed in a small way.

"You just got to stay positive no matter what," Vujacic said. "I've always believed that hard work pays off. The first part of the season is going the way it's going. I'm ready to play and whenever my number is called, I'm going to be there to give 110%.

"Difficult or not, it's different. It's definitely something that didn't happen in a few years. You got to find a way how to handle it."

broderick.turner@latimes.com

twitter.com/BA_Turner

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