10 Los Angeles Laker Killers You Probably Didn't Know
What do you call players that make a career of destroying the Los Angeles Lakers? Laker killers.
The Lakers are one of the few teams in the NBA that consistently take an opposing team's best effort whenever they take the floor. Whether it's a game against the Miami Heat or the lowly Charlotte Bobcats, the Lakers are an obvious matchup that brings the best out of their opposition.
While fans may point to the obvious Laker killers as Paul Pierce, LeBron James or Chris Paul, this list doesn't include them. Rather this list includes players who seem to have personal vendettas with the Lakers and exceed career numbers whenever they play them.
Here are the 10 least likely NBA players who have become Laker killers in recent years.
Linas Kleiza, Toronto Raptors
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Since 2006, Kleiza has had a handful of big games against the Los Angeles and has averaged 13.6 points per game against the team in the regular season.
While 13.6 points may not seem like a huge number to be averaging against the Lakers, it beats his career average of 8.7 points per game. In his 14 regular season games against the Lakers since '06, Kleiza has matched or eclipsed the 15-point mark six times, including three 20-plus point games.
Although Kleiza has only played the Lakers three times since joining the Toronto Raptors in 2010, he still remains a threat to them whenever he is on the opposition.
Nicolas Batum, Portland Trail Blazers
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Since gaining substantial minutes in 2010, Batum has torched L.A., averaging 15.8 points per game in nine contests. While his points per game average against Los Angeles matches his season average this year, he has had this kind of scoring consistency against the purple and gold for nearly three seasons.
Aside from scoring the basketball, Batum, at 6'8", also gives the Lakers fits on defense, as he has both the size and quickness to defend and rebound the ball. At just 24 years old, Batum has a lot of basketball ahead of him and should continue to pest the Lakers.
Byron Mullens, Charlotte Bobcats
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In the two matchups against Los Angeles this season, Mullens has averaged 16.5 points and 14.5 rebounds. While those games ultimately resulted in losses for the Bobcats, the play of Mullens nearly won them both for his squad, as they held double-digit leads late in each game.
Although Mullens has only had one great statistical season against the Lakers so far, his style of being a big man that can shoot the ball has been known to give the Lakers problems. At just the age of 23, Mullens seems to be the next likely candidate to become this squad's Laker killer since former Bobcat Gerald Wallace.
Danilo Gallinari, Denver Nuggets
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In three games against the Lakers this season, Gallinari has averaged 19.3 points and has made 3.3 three-pointers in each game. His point averages against the Lakers are highs compared to his career average of 14.6 points and season average of 17.2 points.
Gallo has shown throughout his young career that he isn't scared of taking big shots even if it is against a storied franchise like the Los Angeles Lakers. His game can still see a lot of improvement and if he does continue to get better, the Nuggets could gain that dominant upper hand over the Lakers.
J.J. Barea, Minnesota Timberwolves
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Nothing hurts more than having to relive a painful memory and for Lakers fans, J.J. Barea is exactly that kind of memory.
As a member of the Dallas Mavericks, Barea in the 2010 NBA Playoffs made a mockery of the Lakers defense as he averaged 11.5 points and 5.5 assists per game. He was a significant reason to why the Lakers were swept and why the Mavericks won the title.
Since running amok against the Lakers in the 2010, Barea has left the Mavericks and has joined forces with the Minnesota Timberwolves. While his numbers against the Lakers may have dipped due to injury over the past two seasons, Barea is still a player the Lakers don't want any part of. When healthy, the 28-year-old has proven that he can wreak havoc against Los Angeles; his 14 points against the Lakers recently is proof of that.
Corey Brewer, Denver Nuggets
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Like his teammate Danilo Gallinari, Corey Brewer has also seemed to rise to occasion whenever the Nuggets are playing the Lakers.
In three games against Los Angeles this season, Brewer has put up 16.3 points per game, going over his career average of 9.2 points and his season average of 11.4 points per game. Aside from his great collective numbers against the Lakers this season, Brewer also tied his career-high, going for 27 against L.A. back on December 26.
Brewer is quickly emerging as the next player out of Denver to give the Lakers problems. With the ability to knock down the three ball in bunches, he could easily become that spark off the bench that destroys the Lakers on a regular basis.
Michael Beasley, Phoenix Suns
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If Michael Beasley could pick any team he wanted to play against, the Lakers quite possibly would be that team.
Beasley has put up career numbers against the Lakers since his days with the Minnesota Timberwolves and has continued to do so since joining the Phoenix Suns. Over the past three seasons, Beasley has averaged 18 points and 5.9 rebounds against the Lakers, surpassing his season averages of 10.7 points and 4.0 rebounds and career averages of 14.5 and 5.3 rebounds per game.
Beasley has continued to hurt the Lakers no matter what team he is on. If his 27-point performance last month against the team was an example of what's to come, the Lakers may not want to see him anytime soon. It's no wonder why the Lakers were rumored last season in trying to trade for Beasley.
Jose Calderon, Detroit Pistons
As a Raptor, Calderon has burned the Lakers over the past three seasons, adding emphasis to their weakness of defending the point guard position. In Calderon's past four games against the Lakers he has averaged stellar numbers, putting up 21.5 points and 8.8 assists per game. While the Raptors may have only come away with one victory against L.A. over these past four contests, those games were all rather close and were only decided by an average of 5.5 points.
Calderon is just another example of a player that flourishes against Los Angeles and the Lakers should be ecstatic that they won't be seeing him again this season.
J.R. Smith, New York Knicks
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J.R. Smith has been the definition of instant offense off the bench and when he is up against the Lakers, it isn't any different.
Whether it has been with the Denver Nuggets or the New York Knicks, Smith has given the Lakers all they could ask for in recent years. Since 2008, Smith has averaged 16.7 points per game against the Lakers, nearly four points more than his career average of 12.8 points.
Although Smith is known for taking bad shots, he is without a doubt a natural born scorer that can blow games open. As he is now a member of the New York Knicks, the Los Angeles Lakers and their fans should be happy they only have to see Smith twice every season.
Jarrett Jack, Golden State Warriors
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Aside from his three-point blunder earlier this season against Los Angeles, Jarrett Jack has been lethal against the Lakers over the past two seasons.
As a member of both the New Orleans Hornets and Golden State Warriors, Jack has proved to be a force to be reckoned with. In his previous four games against the Lakers he has averaged 20 points and 7.3 assists, almost doubling his career averages of 10.9 points and 4.3 assists per game.
Like many on this list, Jack seems to be a player that has a personal agenda when the Lakers are the opponent. With two more games left against the Warriors on their schedule, the Lakers must find ways to contain him if they hope to make the playoffs.