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Sun Yue debuts on Lakers – Not as tall as Yao

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Lakers’ Sun rises to the occasion

Sun Yue plays in his first NBA regular-season game, replacing an ill Luke Walton on the roster. He scores four points in his 5:14 of action.

By Broderick Turner

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December 8, 2008

Sweat poured down Sun Yue’s face, onto his chest and onto his white dress shirt.

He had played in his first NBA regular-season game with the Lakers on Sunday, and the media formed a semicircle around him, wanting to know how he felt about this special moment.

Sun peered down at the throng before him, a smile on his face, his voice full of joy.

He was active for the first time this season because Luke Walton was sick with flu-like symptoms, opening a roster spot, which Lakers Coach Phil Jackson gave to Sun over DJ Mbenga.

Sun scored four points in his 5:14 of play, at times looking nervous and unsure.

After the game, against the Milwaukee Bucks at Staples Center, Sun showed a sense of humor.

“I feel different. (Usually) I’m already on the go now,” Sun joked in fairly good English.

Indeed, Sun, a 6-9 guard, is always one of the first out of the locker room because he hadn’t played in a game until Sunday.

Sun is from China, a country that’s 1 billion strong and in love with the NBA.

The Lakers acquired Sun with a second-round pick in 2007 (40th overall), but he didn’t sign until Aug, 25 of this year.

When he entered the game with 5:14 left, the crowd cheered for the slender rookie.

Then they began to yell for Sun to score every time the Lakers were on offense.

“I think we were both happy tonight,” Sun said. “We both have a great night. I think it was a fantastic night for me, but also a fantastic night for the fans. I showed them something. At least I’m not making them disappointed tonight.”

Sun maintained he wasn’t nervous or anxious about playing in his first game, even though it looked that way when he committed three fouls in his first minute of action.

“I’m excited but not nervous,” said Sun, who committed four fouls and turned the ball over twice in his limited action.

“Before the coaches all tell me, they say, ‘We have long season and you never know when you’re going to be on the court.’ So I’ll always be ready and always prepare for everything.”

Sun probably will play a few games on the Lakers’ NBA Development League team, the D-Fenders.

But for now, for this special moment, Sun has played in an NBA game.

He missed his first shot, a jumper.

But Sun made his next two, the first on the pinch-post, cutting after making a pass to Chris Mihm.

Mihm passed back to Sun for a 16-foot jumper.

The crowd stood and cheered, as did Sun’s teammates on the Lakers’ bench.

Sun scored again on a driving layup off a pass from Sasha Vujacic.

“When I practice before the game, I work on those shots,” Sun said. “So I know those so well. When I passed the ball to Chris, I feel just like in practice. It was so natural, so smooth.”

Turner is a Times staff writer

broderick.turner@latimes.com

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This entry was posted on December 8, 2008 by in Uncategorized and tagged .
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