June 21, 2024

PHOENIX — Wednesday night’s game between the Warriors and Suns added another incident to the long conflict between Golden State’s Chris Paul and referee Scott Foster when Paul was ejected after Foster slapped him with two quick technical fouls.

It was Paul’s seventh career ejection.

“It’s personal,” Paul said. “We had a situation some years ago and it’s personal. The league knows. Everybody knows. There was a meeting and all of that. … I’m OK with a ref saying whatever they’re saying, but don’t use a tech to get your point across.”

With 23 seconds left in the second quarter, Phoenix forward Kevin Durant drew a foul on Paul, who vehemently disagreed with the call. As Durant lined up to shoot free throws, Paul chirped at Foster, the crew chief for the night.

It didn’t take long before Foster assessed his first technical foul on Paul. Just seconds later, he hit him with his second, which earned Paul an ejection. Paul finished with six points and six assists.

Warriors coach Steve Kerr also picked up a technical for yelling at Foster after Paul’s ejection.

“I didn’t think Chris deserved to be ejected,” Kerr said. “The first tech, absolutely. But I thought the second one was unnecessary. Everybody gets frustrated out there.”

The dynamic between Foster and Paul isn’t new. Paul’s former teams — the LA Clippers, Houston Rockets, Oklahoma City Thunder and Suns — lost 13 consecutive playoff games when Foster was the crew chief. In playoff games in which Foster served as a referee, Paul’s overall record is 3-17 dating to 2008, according to ESPN Stats & Information research.

The animosity between the two might have originated during Paul’s stint with the Clippers, who he played for from 2011 to 2017. After Wednesday night’s game, Paul alluded to an incident involving his son and Foster while he was a member of the Clippers, saying that it led to a meeting at the time with himself, his father, Foster and former Clippers coach Doc Rivers. He declined to reveal more details about the incident.

Paul and the league also had a meeting regarding Foster in 2018 while Paul played for the Houston Rockets.

“It was a whole thing,” Paul said of his issues with Foster. “But it’s still been a thing for a while. … It is what it is at this point.”

Warriors guard Stephen Curry said that Foster exchanged works with Paul during the interaction. Kerr said Foster crossed a line when he handed out the second technical foul. Curry and Paul echoed that sentiment.

“If you are going to pop your s—, don’t use a tech to get your point across,” Paul said. “We have these conversations all of the time. There are some officials who will talk back to you, which sometimes it’s healthy. It’s an intense game. … But he’s got power because he can call a tech.”

Curry added, “When both player and ref engage in conversation, that has to stay there. I told Scott that after he ejected him. There are certain situations where players overstep. There are times when you know you have to back off. But when both are engaging, I don’t like that.”

Paul was a major bright spot for Golden State before his ejection. His six assists were more than the rest of the Warriors combined (five), and the team shot 50% when Paul created offense with a shot or pass; the Warriors shot 35% when Paul wasn’t involved.

The Warriors’ issues in the game weren’t all because of Paul’s ejection. They started midway through the second quarter when they couldn’t stop fouling, and that issue followed them through the second half.

The Warriors have had instances where a tense moment or ejection — such as Draymond Green‘s and Klay Thompson‘s ejections against the Minnesota Timberwolves — fueled them. That wasn’t the case Wednesday.

“I’ve got to do a better job at staying there for my teammates, but it is what it is,” Paul said. “I’ll probably see [Foster] in a Game 7 sometime soon.”

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