Chris Paul’s focus preceding the Phoenix Suns’ 109-95 loss to the Los Angeles Lakers in Game 3 of the Western Conference Finals on Thursday night was on his nagging right shoulder contusion. But once the contest ended, another nuisance occupied his mind.
In his postgame press conference with local reporters, Paul said “11 in a row” multiple times, referring to his last 11 postseason games refereed by Scott Foster, which have all resulted in losses for his team. Foster officiated Thursday’s contest along with Sean Wright, Sean Corbin and Gediminas Petraitis.
Scott Foster vs Chris Paul is off to a quick start pic.twitter.com/xeYdTWYg4x— Adam Spolane (@AdamSpolane) May 28, 2021
Paul has had a history of frustration with Foster throughout his career, including as recently as the first round of last year’s Western Conference playoffs with the Oklahoma City Thunder. Paul received a delay-of-game call from Foster in Game 7 against the Houston Rockets, something he told reporters he was intentionally penalized for.
As a member of the Rockets, Paul also cited multiple instances of issues with Foster, including a game against the Lakers in 2019 when he and current Brooklyn Nets shooting guard James Harden fouled out, Milwaukee Bucks forward PJ Tucker had five fouls and Paul and then-coach Mike D’Antoni received late technical fouls.
“I’ve met with the league with him before,” Paul said then to ESPN’s Rachel Nichols. “I don’t know what else to do.”
Here is what Paul said about Foster and the latest on his shoulder injury after Thursday’s game.
On how his shoulder feels and how he’s been rehabbing it since he injured it in Game 1:
“Just treatment all day, all day every day trying to get it right.”
If he reinjured his shoulder after colliding with Payne in the fourth quarter:
“No, I got kneed in the [groin].”
On how his shoulder is affecting his game most:
“I don’t know, just got to figure it out. It’s the playoffs, everybody’s a little banged up. I got to figure it out.”
On how he handles an ill-timed injury like this, especially considering his history of injuries in the postseason:
“Get through it. It is what it is, you control what you can control. I know I do everything on a daily basis to prepare myself to be ready to play and when things happen, they happen. And you just got to overcome it and get through it.”
On how he can help the Suns despite playing through an injury:
“Just try to be vocal. Try to match it with the energy. We got to stay locked into the game plan, guys playing hard, competing. We got to try to limit their free-throw attempts. They’re shooting a lot of free throws, last game, tonight. If I was a betting man, 11 games in a row (the number of playoff games he has lost consecutively with Foster officiating a game he has played in). Eleven games in a row.”
If his shoulder felt better in the game and how much having two off days before Game 4 will help him:
“It is what it is, keep trying to get ready. Like I said, prepare always, always. And we’ll see what happens. Eleven in a row.”
On what the Suns will need to focus on in the next two days before Game 4:
“Look at our defensive coverages, see how we can limit the layups and the dunks. Seemed like they made shots sort of later in the game, we got a lot of great looks earlier. And just keep fighting. Keep fighting. Eleven in a row is tough.”