Paul George described his Los Angeles Clippers debut as "terrible" despite earning a rave review from Doc Rivers for his 33-point effort.
George played for the first time as a Clipper on Thursday following his July trade from the Oklahoma City Thunder, having undergone offseason shoulder surgeries.
The six-time All-Star went 10 for 17 from the field and three for five from three-point range to lead all scorers for the Clippers but could not prevent them falling to a 132-127 defeat at the Smoothie King Center.
Clippers coach Rivers described George's display as "sensational". However, the former Indiana Pacers star was less impressed with his own showing, particularly on the defensive end.
"I thought I was terrible, I've got a lot to get back to, just from my performance, my defense, just for the flow of the game," George told reporters.
"I haven't had a lot of time just getting a feel for this speed. It's good to get this one under my belt, this was essentially like my first preseason game.
"It's the best my shoulder's felt in a really long time, I knew coming into tonight shooting wouldn't be a problem.
In his 2019-20 debut, the @LAClippers' Paul George scored 33 points in 24 minutes tonight.— Stats By STATS (@StatsBySTATS) November 15, 2019
The last starter to score that many points while playing that few minutes in a game was the Mavericks' Mark Aguirre on January 29, 1987 (36 points in 23 minutes)#ClipperNation
"A lot of the [defensive] breakdowns happened just because of my lack of being out there with those guys, communication, a lot of those breakdowns were basically on me, I look forward to watching the film and learning from that.
"We'll move forward, we'll learn and we'll start to get our chemistry down."
Kawhi Leonard did not feature against New Orleans as part of his well-documented load management, while Patrick Beverley was also missing because of a calf issue.
George will team up with Leonard when the Clippers face the Atlanta Hawks at the Staples Center on Saturday.
"I'm excited for this whole team together, play with Pat [Beverley], with Kawhi," George added. "I'm looking forward to this team being at full strength."
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