Paul George isn't here to make friends.
After dropping 33 points in a win over the Phoenix Suns on Thursday night — one of his highest-scoring performances of the season — the All-Star forward said he's not paying attention to what other teams are doing right now.
"We focused on us," George said. "I don't know what that chirp was about. We focused on us. I don't care what they're doing over there, I don't care who they are or what they're doing. I'm locked in. They can do the chirping, I let them have it tonight. I just stayed in my zone, stayed in my place. I don't know. But, again, I don't care what they're doing. We're focused on us over here, we're focused on getting better. Tonight was a fun matchup, and we appreciate the challenge."
Things got chippy between the Clippers and Suns, as three technical fouls, two flagrant fouls and two ejections were served throughout the course of the game. The first flagrant was assessed to Suns star Devin Booker, who appeared to connect with Kawhi Leonard's throat as LA's two-way superstar drove to the rim. Things remained heated for the remainder of the contest as the Clippers ultimately pulled away for the 113-103 victory, but not before Patrick Beverley and Marcus Morris Sr. were tossed.
Clippers coach Tyronn Lue welcomed the scrappiness, saying after the game that he wasn't concerned about the high-energy matchup.
"I love it," Lue said. "You are competing at a high level against one of the best teams in the league. Do what you got to do to win, and I thought our guys were physical, I thought we competed, I thought we fought. Just stayed the course. There's going to be games like this where it's going to be chippy. They're fighting for something, we're fighting for something, so it's going to happen. And I'm OK with it."
Despite the atmosphere, George appeared to stay cool on the surface while heating up from beyond the arc. He sent in seven of his nine attempts from three-point range — one make shy of his season-high — and sank 50% of his shots inside the arc. It was a similar showing to the one George had on Tuesday night, when he went off for 36 points in LA's commanding win over the Portland Trail Blazers.
Perhaps the way the Clippers respond to tonight's win will be the true measure of where this team is at, though. After a hard-fought victory over a Western Conference rival, LA will host the Houston Rockets on Friday night. Despite Houston's record, the Rockets will be motivated and ready to fight, and the Clippers have to match the energy.