After the Phoenix Suns took only 20 free throw attempts, less than half of the Los Angeles Lakers‘ 46 attempts, in the Suns’ 122-111 loss on March 22, guard Chris Paul said the free throw disparity was only part of Phoenix’s problem.
“That’s the game. Every call isn’t going to be perfect or every game called,” Paul told NBA.com’s Mark Medina after the game. “We’re just trying to find the balance. I think that’s the thing. Trying to find the balance, and we got to be better. I don’t think all of [the calls] are missed.” But, he added, “it’s a little weird-looking.”
Paul’s concerns echoed those of head coach Monty Williams, who was fired up during his postgame press conference.
“I can sit here and rant and rave about what I feel like is not a fair whistle,” Williams said. “It’s just not. Forty-six free throws. We’re doing the same thing. We’re attacking the rim. I’m getting explanations about we’re taking too many jump shots, midrange jump shots. We’re playing a physical game.”
The Lakers, who take only 21.29 free throw attempts per game, rank 30th in the NBA in that category, and they nearly doubled the league average number of free throw attempts per game (23.7).
“They had 27 free throws in the first half,” Williams said. “They end up with 46. When do you see a game with 46 free throws for one team? That’s just not right.”
Chris Paul: ‘That Ain’t No Foul’
Phoenix was called for 31 fouls for a second straight game, which was the team’s second straight loss and fifth in its last seven.
At one point during a postgame interview with Duane Rankin of The Arizona Republic, Paul discussed his getting called for a shooting foul against Austin Reaves with 8:33 left in the first quarter and the Lakers down 10-6.
“I was like, ‘That ain’t no foul,’ and Austin Reaves was like, ‘Nah, it wasn’t,'” Paul said. Reaves made his free throw attempt, the first of his 12 (on 13 attempts) on the night.
Still, Paul said, “We’ve got to overcome in spite of. Got to find a way.”
Suns Eye Critical Matchup Against Sacramento Kings
Just 10 games remain on Phoenix’s regular season schedule. As of now, the Suns finds themselves in fourth place in the Western Conference standings. But the March 22 loss to the Lakers was a costly one, given the timing and results of other Western Conference matchups.
Phoenix remains just half a game up on the Los Angeles Clippers for fourth place in the standings. After the Golden State Warriors defeated the Dallas Mavericks on March 22, the Suns are now just one game up of Golden State from falling to sixth place in the standings.
The Suns continue to wait for the return of superstar Kevin Durant, who has been sidelined with an ankle injury. Durant is expected to be re-evaluated at the end of the month and the team will hope he can return to the floor soon.
Phoenix will have to regroup to take on the Sacramento Kings on Friday. The Kings are currently third in the standings.