Paul George described the Clippers’ defense as “scary” after Los Angeles stifled Luka Doncic in a dominant 114-99 win over the Mavericks.
The Mavs saw their five-game winning streak snapped at American Airlines Center on Tuesday as George and Kawhi Leonard combined for 54 points in a ruthless display.
The Clippers produced a masterful defensive plan to limit Doncic, who was coming off a streak of four games with at least 30 points and 10 assists. The 20-year-old finished with 22 points, eight rebounds and six assists, but he was just 4-of-14 from the field and 0-of-8 from 3-point range. He also committed seven of his team’s 20 turnovers.
While he admits the offense can still improve, George believes the Clippers’ defense is already a force to be reckoned with.
“Offensively, we’re still figuring it out,” George said. “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 [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.”
Leonard added: “We came out with a defensive mindset on the road. [We] wanted to do the best job we could on Luka. He’s been killing it lately, playing at a very, very high level. We just wanted to make it difficult for him tonight, get some deflections, and I think we were able to do that.”
Dallas coach Rick Carlisle credited Doncic for not allowing frustrations to get the better of him during a bruising encounter.
“It was frustrating because he got hit and knocked on the floor a couple of times early,” Carlisle said. “Teams are physical with him. They want to make him feel contact. They want him to hit the floor as often as possible.
“It wears down great players, but he stayed in the game. He didn’t let frustrations with the officials get to him.”