Los Angeles Clippers star guard Paul George delivered a huge performance on the opening night and the Clippers spoiled the Los Angeles Lakers' title celebration at Staples Center. George, who signed a supermax five-year extension with the Clippers this past offseason, scored a game-high 33 points as the Clippers beat the Lakers 116-109.
"I've applied the work that I put in this offseason," George said after the win, per ESPN. "It's not gonna be pretty every night. Tonight I got it going and was able to show up big time for my team."
This offseason, it was reported that some Clippers players weren't happy that George and Kawhi Leonard were given preferential treatment. Speaking on the report, George insisted it wasn't an issue. "The dudes that put it in the work, that built themselves up to be where they're at, it's a reason they get to that level," George said when asked about preferential treatment being an issue during an interview on TNT's Inside the NBA.
"They know what they need and they know what makes them play at a high level. "Whoever that offends, you know, we ain't have that issue right now in this locker room."
Leonard gives credit to George
The Clippers suffered a catastrophic exit from the playoffs last season as they blew a 3-1 lead to the Denver Nuggets.
The Clippers had big leads in each of the last three games of the series but still failed to claim the key win No. 4. "We are not thinking about last year," said Leonard, who scored 26 points. "It's a different team.
I am just happy that we kept playing basketball the right way pretty much. Even if we lost the game, the lead, we turned around, we stayed positive, we kept playing our basketball pretty much. We ran our offense. And that is what I take pride in tonight, that everyone had each other's back and speaking positive and we kept communicating on the floor and pushed out a win."
After a big win over the Lakers, Leonard spoke highly of George's leadership skills. "Last year in the playoffs when he was missing shots, he was still talking, communicating, playing the right way, playing defense," Leonard said.
"They just didn't fall for him. And tonight, his shots fell but obviously he is making my job easier by talking to people, giving instructions on missed assignments or if we are not running the plays right."