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 with 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."
Mavericks 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 with 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 number 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 him."
Patrick Beverley, Rodney McGruder, Maurice Harkless, Leonard and George all took turns as the primary defender against Doncic. Even when Doncic was able to drive, he had to deal with the Clippers' swarming help defense, particularly the long limbs and strong hands of Leonard and George.
"You have two wing players that are probably the most physical wing players -- and the most athletic wing players -- in the game," Carlisle said. "They are big, they are strong, and they are highly skilled."
Leonard and George are in the process of figuring out how their versatile offensive games can best mesh. Their combined point total has increased in each of their four games together, ticking up from 42 to 43 to 44 before jumping to 54 against the Mavericks.
George scorched the Mavs for 17 of his 26 points in the first quarter, when he was 5-of-9 from the floor and 4-of-6 from 3-point range. Leonard scored only two points on 1-of-6 shooting in the first quarter but was a dominant offensive force the rest of the game, bullying Dallas defenders to score all but two of his buckets in the paint.
In 94 minutes this season, lineups featuring George and Leonard have scored 105.4 points per 100 possessions, according to NBA.com stats. That's a pedestrian number, but the defensive rating (98.5) is elite.
"That's who we are as a team," said George, who had six steals in the win. "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."