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Tim MacMahonESPN Staff WriterClose
- Joined ESPNDallas.com in September 2009
- Covers the Dallas Cowboys and Dallas Mavericks
- Appears regularly on ESPN Dallas 103.3 FM
DALLAS — The LA Clippers have yet to lose a game in which both of their perennial All-Star offseason acquisitions have played, but Paul George considers his pairing with Kawhi Leonard a “work in progress” on the offensive end.
The Clippers improved to 4-0 when they have Leonard and George in the lineup, beating the Dallas Mavericks 114-99 on Tuesday with the type of smothering defensive performance expected of a team that added two wings with All-Defensive pedigrees.
The victory marked the first time that Leonard and George each scored at least 20 points in a game as teammates. George, who was sidelined until Nov. 14 due to his recovery from offseason surgeries on both shoulders, scored 26 on 8-of-21 shooting. Leonard, who missed George’s first three games due to knee soreness, scored a game-high 28 points on 11-of-21 shooting from the floor.
“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 him, 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.”
Mavs point guard Luka Doncic, the 20-year-old superstar who was coming off his first Western Conference player of the week award, endured the painful experience of being the focal point of a Clippers defensive game plan.
Doncic finished 22 points, eight rebounds and six assists, well below his season averages in each category. He was 4-of-14 from the floor and missed all eight of his 3-point attempts, scoring the majority of his points from the free throw line, where he was 14-of-16. Doncic committed seven of the Mavs’ 20 turnovers.
“We came out with a defensive mindset on the road,” Leonard said. “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.”
Doncic left the American Airlines Center without talking to the media. He had multiple discussions with the officials throughout the game, expressing his displeasure with calls that weren’t made on a night when he had his second-highest total of free throws attempted this season.
“It was frustrating because he got hit and knocked on the floor a couple of times early,” Dallas coach Rick 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