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Lakers' Sasha Vujacic shooting blanks

December 1, 2009 | 12:10 pm

Sasha Now that Pau Gasol is back in action, there's little to find fault with in the Lakers (13-3), that is, unless you look at reserve guard Sasha Vujacic.

Vujacic, now 25, had a breakout season in 2007-08, playing 17.8 minutes a game, while averaging 8.8 points, shooting 45.4% from the field and an impressive 43.7% from beyond the three-point arc -- all career bests. Fans happily called him by his nickname, "The Machine," for his smooth shooting.

The Lakers rewarded him with a three-year, $15-million contract in the summer of 2008. But that deal looks like a big mistake for GM Mitch Kupchak.

Vujacic had a disappointing regular season in 2008-09, as his playing time fell to 16.2 minutes a game, his field-goal shooting dropped to 38.7%, and his three-point average fell to 36.3%, as his scoring declined to 5.8 points a game. Then, in last spring's playoffs, Vujacic completely lost his confidence as his shooting was a woeful 26.4% and his scoring average a microscopic 3.0 points a game.

During the playoffs, Lakers Coach Phil Jackson had a quick hook for Vujacic -- a couple of bad shots or dumb fouls in the second quarter and he'd often vanish for most of the game.

His miserable play has carried over to this season. Vujacic's appearances are usually during garbage-time minutes in the fourth quarter. After 16 games, his stats: 7.9 minutes (career low), field-goal percentage: 32.5% and 2.1 points per game (another career low).

-- Barry Stavro

Photo: Lakers Coach Phil Jackson is unhappy with Sasha Vujacic during Game 4 of their playoff series against the Houston Rockets in May 2009. Credit: Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Times