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Paul George Talks Clippers' 'Scary' Defense, Calls Offense a 'Work in Progress'

Mike Chiari@mikechiariFeatured ColumnistNovember 27, 2019

Los Angeles Clippers forward Paul George points back during the first half of an NBA basketball game against the New Orleans Pelicans in Los Angeles, Sunday, Nov. 24, 2019. (AP Photo/Kelvin Kuo)
Kelvin Kuo/Associated Press

Following a 114-99 win over the Dallas Mavericks on Tuesday, Los Angeles Clippers star Paul George told ESPN's Tim MacMahon:

"Offensively, we're still figuring it out. We're still a work in progress, but I think defensively is where each game we're getting better and better. Not even from just me and him [Kawhi Leonard], but from the team overall. We're doing stuff instinctively now where we're not even thinking.

"It's just happening. It's a natural habit that we're creating. That's what's most scary because everybody is kind of thinking the same thing when we're on the defensive end, and we're just scrambling."

The Clippers improved to 4-0 in games where both George and Leonard played.

Recovery from offseason surgery on both shoulders delayed George's Clippers debut, but he and the team have been rolling since his return.

In seven games, George is averaging 25.1 points, 6.0 rebounds, 4.3 assists and 1.9 steals. On Tuesday, he put up 26 points, four boards, two assists and six steals in what was his most complete and defensively dominant performance of the season.

The Clippers were expected to be a top team in the Western Conference when they signed Leonard and traded for George, and they have been to this point with a 13-5 record. They were also expected to be especially effective defensively with Leonard, George and point guard Patrick Beverley.

Kawhi is a two-time Defensive Player of the Year, while George is four-time All-Defensive selection and was among the finalists for Defensive Player of the Year last season. Beverley, meanwhile, is a pest on opposing guards and is a two-time All-Defensive selection as well.

George added:

"That's who we are as a team. We pride ourselves on defense. Offensively, we've got guys that can score the ball, but we want to make it tough on a nightly basis on whoever we're playing.

"We knew coming into this, we knew what the Clippers had already, and we knew what we could bring. That's what we're doing right now. We're becoming one of the best defensive teams in the league."

The Clippers rank eighth with a defensive rating of 103.2, and they are 10th in points allowed per game at 106.8, although both numbers have been trending up since George came back.

L.A. is on a six-game winning streak and is third in the Western Conference, 2.5 games behind the Los Angeles Lakers. The Clippers should only improve offensively as well from their current rank of sixth at 114.2 points per game.

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