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Nets' Sasha Vujacic talks about his first game against Lakers

The former Lakers guards Vujacic and Jordan Farmar enjoy their expanded roles with the Nets.

January 14, 2011|By Broderick Turner
  • Lakers guard Shannon Brown pressures Nets guard Sasha Vujacic, who makes the pass in the first half Friday night.
Lakers guard Shannon Brown pressures Nets guard Sasha Vujacic, who makes… (Rick Loomis / Los Angeles…)

It seemed to be a simple question, one that would elicit a simple response of gratitude.

Instead, when Sasha Vujacic was asked how he felt about facing the Lakers for the first time since the team traded him to the New Jersey Nets on Dec. 15, he responded with his own question.

"Are you looking for drama over here?" Vujacic said before the game Friday night at Staples Center. "It's not coming out of my mouth. I'm playing against the Lakers, and we are going to have some fun."

A few minutes later, Vujacic made a poignant comment.

He was the fifth guard on the Lakers, playing in just 11 games, averaging 1.8 points in 4.9 minutes.

Since being acquired by the Nets, Vujacic has played in 13 games. Including his 17 points in 31-plus minutes Friday, He is averaging 11.7 points and just over 27 minutes a game.

"Let me put it this way. I'm breathing again," Vujacic said. "I was suffocating for quite a while. I'm just being honest. It's fun to play again."

Thank-you time

Vujacic is playing alongside a former teammate in Jordan Farmar.

Farmar, who signed a three-year, $12-million deal with the Nets last summer, was given his championship ring from the 2009-10 season.

The Lakers showed highlights of Farmar, who had 12 points and three assists in 25 minutes Friday, on the video screen before the game, finishing with:

"Welcome back Jordan.

"Thank you."

Then Farmar was presented his ring by Lakers captains Kobe Bryant and Derek Fisher.

"I don't get too excited about a lot of things, but this is something special," Farmar said. "We worked hard for it. We went through a lot and it's a big deal. Winning an NBA championship, especially with the Lakers and against the Celtics, this is a big deal. I'm trying to cherish it."

More so, Farmar contends that he's a better basketball player since joining the Nets.

"I get to play a traditional NBA game and run a team when I'm on the floor and make decisions and be the one making plays and show that I have that capability," Farmar said. "It's different from standing and catching and shooting in the corner and feeding off of Kobe and Pau [Gasol] and those guys. I feel as if my individual game has evolved."

During a first-quarter timeout, the Lakers showed highlights of Vujacic from his time with the team, including the two free throws he made in Game 7 of the NBA Finals against the Boston Celtics last season.

It ended with:

"Thanks Machine"

A few seconds later, Vujacic entered the game with 5:17 left to a nice ovation.

"I learned how to become a champion in the NBA and it was great," said Vujacic, who spent seven seasons with the Lakers. "The Lakers were always great to me. It was like family. I really mean it from the bottom of my heart."

broderick.turner@latimes.com

twitter.com/BA_Turner

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