The new-look Los Angeles Clippers acknowledged after their season opener that it will take some time for them to develop chemistry and reach their potential. Their progress will be put to the test early with a trip to San Antonio, where the Clippers haven't won in nearly a decade.
Los Angeles expects to contend in the Western Conference with three new players in its starting lineup, including its entire backcourt. With Paul, Chauncey Billups and Caron Butler making their debuts with the team Sunday night, the Clippers struggled to execute early and trailed at halftime before pulling away for a 105-86 win at Golden State.
"A win like that, we'll take it, especially the first one," said Blake Griffin, who led Los Angeles with 22 points. "We've had practice for about a week now together. It's going to take some time."
Paul echoed Griffin's sentiments, but stressed that the Clippers aren't planning on a long development process.
"While we try to figure each other out and learn guys' hot spots and stuff like that, we want to win at the same time," said Paul, who had 20 points and nine assists in his highly anticipated Clippers debut.
Paul was especially concerned about his team's rebounding after the Warriors grabbed 17 offensive boards and outrebounded the Clippers 48-43 overall.
"I think the biggest thing that killed us was our rebounding," Paul said. "Our rebounding was horrendous. Our defense wasn't as nice as we'd have liked it to be. We were good in spurts."
The Clippers haven't had many good spurts against the Spurs lately, having lost 46 of 51 meetings since Dec. 10, 1997. Los Angeles has dropped 16 straight in San Antonio by an average of 14.3 points, last winning there Jan. 31, 2002.
The Clippers, however, won the last meeting 90-85 at home Dec. 1, 2010, snapping an 18-game overall losing streak in the series behind Griffin's 31 points and 13 rebounds. Griffin averaged 14.0 points in two losses to the Spurs last season.
San Antonio beat Memphis 95-82 in its season opener Monday night, defeating the team that upset the top-seeded Spurs in the first round of the playoffs last spring.
"We played a very good defensive game," said coach Gregg Popovich, whose team forced 24 turnovers. "Very active, we crowded things, got back in transition, got our hands on a lot of balls. We did a good job of that and it fueled the break back the other way."
While the Clippers weren't all on the same page in their opener, Popovich was impressed with his veteran team's performance after a long offseason and an abbreviated training camp due to the lockout.
"They executed much better than I expected. They looked real sharp," he said.
Manu Ginobili, who led the Spurs with 24 points against the Grizzlies, has been held to 13.5 per game in his last six against the Clippers.
While with the Hornets, Paul lost 11 of 13 games in San Antonio, including playoffs. However, he has averaged 26.3 points while shooting 56.2 percent from the field and 59.2 percent (13 for 22) from 3-point range in his last eight visits.