Vujacic no longer a morning person

Times Staff Writer

SEATTLE -- Sasha Vujacic used to be called an “11 o’clock player” by Coach Phil Jackson, a reference to his habit of shooting well in morning practices but failing to extend it to games.

Now he’s living up to a different nickname, one he gave himself -- The Machine.

Vujacic has become a reliable three-point shooter, giving the Lakers an added piece on an already energetic and efficient bench.


He is averaging 11.9 points in 12 games this month and is shooting a remarkable 51% from three-point range over the same span.

His stat line Sunday night in the Lakers’ 111-91 victory over Seattle was typical, if almost expected -- 13 points, with three three-point baskets in six attempts.

“Coming into this season, there was a lot of talk about how it was time to show why I came here to Los Angeles and why they picked me up,” said Vujacic, the 27th pick in the 2004 draft. “I’m just having fun and playing consistent minutes.”

Despite the original nickname he affixed to Vujacic, Jackson said he had been a “promoter of Sasha for a long time.”

“Now we see that he’s got a definite role,” Jackson said. “He’s influential in ballgames, he’s helped us win a couple ballgames this year. He now has a nickname for himself that everybody’s kind of kidding him about, but he is looking like he’s going to be a deadly three-point shooter.”

Vujacic, who turns 24 next week, is in the last year of a contract that pays him $1.8 million this season. He will be a restricted free agent in July, but tries not to think that far ahead.

“Individual stuff comes after the team stuff,” he said. “All I’m thinking about is that goal we all have set up for this season and that’s to go as far as we can. I can say loud and proud that we’re going to go after the championship. After that, we can talk about” his future.


Vladimir Radmanovic traveled with the team but did not play against Seattle after sustaining what was believed to be a strained right calf Saturday against the Clippers.

Radmanovic will undergo an MRI exam today in Los Angeles and might be out a week or two.

“He just made a move on the defensive end and cramped,” Jackson said. “If it’s cramps, it’s one thing. If it’s a torn or pulled calf, it’s another.”

Luke Walton took his place in the starting lineup and had 11 points, seven rebounds and six assists against Seattle.