Paul was specifically talking about referee Scott Foster, who has some history with the 36-year-old guard. Paul has lost 11 straight playoff games that Foster has officiated, a streak that Paul feels is more than coincidence.
“They are shooting a lot of free throws. Last game, tonight. If I was a betting man, 11 games in a row,” Paul told reporters. “We’ll see what happens. 11 in a row is tough.”
The Lakers shot 12 more free throws than the Suns during Game 3, led by Anthony Davis, who was 12-of-14 from the charity stripe.
Paul and Foster had a brief encounter in the first quarter, showing the tense relationship between the two.
The Suns also had two players — Devin Booker and Jae Crowder — ejected in the closing moments of the game. Booker got tossed after pushing Lakers guard Dennis Schroder when he was airborne, while Crowder was sent to the locker room for talking some extra trash following the play.
Paul wasn’t the only one upset with Foster. Former NBAer turned ESPN talking head Kendrick Perkins also had words for the veteran official on Twitter.
“Can somebody tell Scott Foster that nobody wants to watch him blow his damn whistle all night! God Bless America. Carry on,” he wrote on Twitter.
Paul Says ‘Nuts,’ Not Shoulder, Kept Him Out Late
Paul has been dealing with a shoulder injury he suffered early in Game 1 against the Lakers. It limited him to 23 minutes in Game 2 and he sat the fourth quarter of Game 3.
However, Paul said it wasn’t the shoulder that kept him out, but rather a low blow.
“I got kneed in the nuts,” Paul told reporters. “It’s the playoffs, everybody’s a little banged up.”
Despite what Paul is saying, the shoulder is obviously bothering him. He was seen shaking it out at multiple points during the game and he’s attempted less than 10 shots in each game of the series. He scored just 7 points with 6 assists against the Lakers in Game 3 and was a game-worst minus-20 in his 27 minutes.
Suns coach Monty Williams gave a candid assessment of Paul’s situation following Game 3, according to Suns journalist Gina Mizell.
“I know how bad he wants to win, but at the end of the day, we get paid to do what we do. He’s got a beautiful wife and children. He has a Hall of Fame career. He’s handled these things well, and I don’t doubt that Chris will come out of this stronger and better,” Williams said. “What we’re going through right now is not the worst thing in the world. Now, as it relates to his career and legacy, it is hard, and I get that. To be where he is and how he’s played for us and not be able to play at the highest level, that’s hard.”
Suns Say Teams Trying to Get ‘Under Their Skin’
The Lakers were trying to set the tone for the rest of the series against the Suns, toying with them after going up big. LeBron James smiled as he backed down Crowder, the bench mob danced along the sideline and there was a certain lack of respect from the defending champs as they took down the upstart No. 2 seed.
Things hit a tipping point when Booker was ejected for his play on Schroder, which was one of many chippy moments in the series.
“When we play well, teams are going to try to get under our skin,” Williams said. “We have to be able to weather that. That doesn’t mean you’re a punk or doormat, but we have to stay within our game plan. It’s tough at times when you feel you are being fouled or think someone is doing something that isn’t right. But we have shown when we can stay steady with our poise and emotions that we can weather that. Tonight, we did not do that well. … All of our guys know we have to be better.”
The teams will have two days off before facing off on Sunday, May 30, for Game 4 in Los Angeles.