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NBA Playoffs, Lakers Suns Game 6: Slovenian feud almost forced a Game 7

May 30, 2010, 3:22 AM EDT

Vujacic_Dragic.jpg“I’m going to kill him.”

That was Kobe Bryant’s comment about teammate Sasha Vujacic to TNT’s Craig Sager after the game. He was kidding. Probably.

But I would not have wanted to be Vujacic on the plane ride back to Los Angleles — it was Vujacic who made the play that swung the momentum to the Suns in the fourth quarter. Vujacic personal feud — his cage match with Goran Dragic — led to a play that ignited the Phoenix crowd, turning what had been into a demoralizing rout into a game Kobe needed his brand of heroics to save.

Here’s how it went down: It’s less than a minute into the fourth quarter and the Lakers were up 17 — and had taken the crowd totally out of it — when Goran Dragic got by Sasha and made a little five foot floater in the lane.

As they started back up the court, Dragic was chirping and standing right behind Vujacic, getting in in his ear. So Vujacic threw his arms up straight in the air, so that his bicep area caught Dragic on the jaw. Dragic fell to the ground, the referees conferred and Vujacic got a flagrant 1 foul — the Suns got two shots and the ball.

This whole incident was very much like a soccer match. Very European. Vujacic couldn’t do the mature thing and walk away, so like a guy going for the ball with a slide tackle he was sure to send a little message. But the hit wasn’t that hard and Dragic acted like a sniper shot him. He should have had the trainer come out and spray that magic soccer spray on him that cures all wounds instantly. He was fine 20 seconds later.

Everyone was overacting.

Vujacic said after the game Dragic was talking about Sasha’s family. Dragic says he was talking to himself. Whatever, they were going at each other. These two have bad blood dating back to the Slovenian national team last summer — which Vujacic was cut from after he missed most of camp with injuries. Dragic is one of that team’s stars.

Bottom line is Sasha’s foul got Dragic going, and he went on a personal 8-0 run against the Lakers to make it a game again. The Suns went on a 20-8 run that made it a game again until Kobe took over in the last two minutes.

But he likely would not have needed to if Vujacic had not awoken the sleeping Suns. And that is why his flight back to LA was very uncomfortable.

  1. Jeff W - May 30, 2010 at 10:22 AM

    Sasha lookes like a promising player a few years ago. He has for the most part been a bust. Lakers should cut or trade him and let him finish his years somewhere like Memphis or Sacramento…

  2. LayTheSeed - May 31, 2010 at 3:21 PM

    The videos prove that Dragic deliberately approached Vujacic, that Dragic said something inflammatory to Vujacic, and that Dragic chest-butted Vujacic to provoke a reaction. The video shows that Vujacic bumped him with his bicep, not his elbow, under his chin, not in his face, as has been frequently misreported. Lastly, the videos show Dragic looking for the refs – proceeding with the most absurd flop in recent years – pretending to cry like a baby on the floor, covering his face (but looking through his fingers), and curling up in a fetal position. Pathetic – absolutely pathetic! This was embarrassing – to the Suns, and to the league – way to go, Dragic – what a sportsman! All of this on the heels of a revamped attitude by the league to stop flopping. Good show, NBA, good show. If the NBA had any semblance of professionalism, they would do something about this, but since they are more interested in protecting themselves, they will undoubtedly do nothing. When something like this happens during one of the biggest games of the year, you have got to wonder –wonder what is going through the minds of the refs, and how much they can swing a game toward one team.

  3. joey - May 31, 2010 at 8:32 PM

    I totally agree with you!

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