After he struggled in the Los Angeles Clippers' loss to the Dallas Mavericks, Paul George insisted his team are up for the challenge of a competitive series.
George had an outing to forget as the Clippers went down to a 127-114 defeat on Wednesday that levelled their first-round NBA playoffs series at 1-1.
The former Oklahoma City Thunder forward went four for 17 shooting and had missed his first five shots before finally converting a three-pointer four minutes into the second half.
Despite many rating the Clippers as favourites to be crowned NBA champions, George does not think a challenging series against the seventh-seeded Mavs should come as a surprise to fans and analysts.
"We expect a tough matchup, we expect a tough challenge, but the good thing about it is we are up for the challenge," said George, per ESPN.
"They are a good team and it just goes to show you the West is tough.
"The eight seed [the Portland Trail Blazers] just beat the one seed [the Los Angeles Lakers], so it tells you the West is tough.
"It is a tough conference. Any given night, any team, especially here [in the Orlando NBA bubble], can win. And we full on seen that.
"So it is no surprise. What you have to do is come to play and this was their night."
Kawhi Leonard had a game-high 35 points and, like George, felt the Mavs represented impressive opposition.
"Give them guys credit, they played hard," said Leonard. "They are the reason why we didn’t come back. They knocked down big shots at the right times."
Patrick Beverley was out with a calf injury for the Clippers, who saw Luka Doncic score 28 points for the Mavs despite spending much of the second half on the bench having got into foul trouble.
Kristaps Porzingis had 23 for the Mavs, the same total as Lou Williams produced for Los Angeles, while three Dallas players scored double figures from the bench.
"Their bench outplayed our bench and our starters," added Clippers coach Doc Rivers, who outlined areas for improvement ahead of Game 3 on Friday.
"They were just looking us in the eye and taking us off the dribble and playing draw and kick basketball.
"They played together. They moved the ball and I thought that stood out. At halftime we had seven assists, our starters had two assists at halftime.
"I think we ended up with four assists from our starters – that is not how we have played all year. And if we play like that we cannot win."