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Clippers’ Paul George reacts to Stephen Curry, Warriors beating LeBron James, Lakers

Paul George, Stephen Curry, LeBron James, Clippers, Lakers, Warriors

Playa Vista, CA – Paul George and the Los Angeles Clippers tip off their season on Thursday by visiting the Golden State Warriors in San Francisco. The NBA season, however, is already in full swing after the Tuesday nightcap featured Stephen Curry and the Warriors taking on LeBron James and the Los Angeles Lakers.

Despite shooting just 5-of-21 from the field, Curry finished with a 21-point, 10-rebound, 10-assist triple-double, leading the Warriors to an opening-night win. James finished with a game-high 34 points on 13-of-23 shooting, but the Lakers were unable to overcome a fantastic night of ball movement from Golden State.

After the win, Clippers star Paul George said the thing that stood out to him the most was that Warriors ball movement.

“They move the ball,” George explained. “It’s scary. Steph didn’t shoot it well, and they still win. So we just have to be ready for their ball movement.”

The Warriors finished with 30 assists, with 10 coming from Stephen Curry, six from Draymond Green, and another four from Nemanja Bjelica.

George noted that LeBron James and the Lakers hung in there for most of the game, forcing tough shots and turnovers throughout the night. In the end, Golden State’s ball movement was simply too much.

“I thought the Lakers played them well,” George added. “Put bodies on them. Forced them to make plays at the rim. And that’s how we’re going to have to try to approach it. But I think overall, it was just good basketball. Good to see how the Lakers will come out and get to see how the Warriors will come out.”

The Clippers struggled with transition defense throughout the preseason. It’s an area of emphasis for head coach Tyronn Lue in Game 1, just as it has been in essentially every practice the team has had so far.

The uptempo pace of the Warriors-Lakers game bodes well if you’re hoping for a fun, back-and-forth game without too many stoppages. Lue says he won’t hesitate to stop the game, however, if he feels his team needs to hear it.

“We got to do it and I’ll take every timeout I’ve got to make sure we’re doing it,” Tyronn Lue said on getting back in transition. “But playing at Golden State, the firepower they have and they’re capable of going on crazy runs, so you’ve got to make sure we get back. Just take away easy baskets because they’re going to score the ball. We know that. I think they averaged about 51 or 53 3s a game in the preseason, so we know they’re gonna attack. We know they’re going to shoot 3s, but we just got to eliminate the easy baskets.”

How poor was the Clippers’ transition defense in the preseason? Well, through four games, they were outscored 103-44 in fast-break opportunities. They allowed a whopping 25.8 fast-break points per game in the exhibition games, whereas most teams are likely in the 10-16 range.

The Nuggets outscored the Clippers, 30-9. The Kings outscored them, 22-9. The Mavs outscored them, 21-15. The Timberwolves outscored them, 30-11.

Sure, you could make the case that it was just preseason, but building bad habits from the start is never something you want to see. Against a team like the Warriors in the Chase Center, even a 40-piece from Paul George won’t be enough to change that recipe for getting run out of the building.

“Their pace, their constant movement, and the way they share the basketball (stood out),” Lue said of the Lakers-Warriors game. “If you’re open, you’re going to get the ball. The way they play, the ball is hopping. It’s infectious to move the basketball. It’s infectious to make the right play and the right pass. And Steve Kerr, along with Draymond and Steph, they really have the team playing that way all the time. They play fun basketball. It’s fun to play that way and they have the personnel to do it.”

The Clippers and Warriors tip off at 7:30 p.m. PT on TNT. It’ll be the first game of the season for the Clippers, whose home opener comes Saturday night against the Memphis Grizzlies.