In a game that was already wild enough without referee interjection, Scott Foster found a way to make himself part of the story in the Thunder-Rockets series finale.
The controversial referee called Thunder star Chris Paul for a curious delay of game penalty in the second quarter of Oklahoma City's Game 7 loss on Wednesday, even though the cleaning crew was mopping the floor at the time. Paul was tying his shoes while looking at the replay of a shooting foul he committed and trying to determine whether OKC should challenge the call.
Chris Paul was tying his shoe for a verrrrry long time waiting to see a replay.— (@BoomtownHoops) September 3, 2020
Gets a delay of game even though the crew was still mopping the floor. pic.twitter.com/USPCHtskzq
Paul later alleged Foster told him not to worry about it since the crew was still on the floor — then hit him with a penalty anyway.
I asked Chris Paul about the officiating - specifically that delay of game call. He named Scott Foster as says he knows he’ll get fined.— Taylor Rooks (@TaylorRooks) September 3, 2020
A passionate response that includes “that shit don’t make no sense...we could have won the game” pic.twitter.com/w2MpKr3Uyr
Harden was awarded a technical foul shot after Paul's penalty, which he hit. Harden then went 1-of-2 at the free throw line to give the Rockets a 55-52 lead. Houston ended up winning by two points, 104-102.
Paul also said Foster made a point to tell him he officiated his Game 7 loss to the Spurs in 2008 when he was a member of the Hornets.
Thunder guard Chris Paul says referee Scott Foster made a point to tell him before the Game 7 loss to the Thunder tonight that he also reffed his Game 7 loss to the Spurs in 2008 when CP was with the Hornets.— Marc J. Spears (@MarcJSpears) September 3, 2020
NBA Twitter was quick to note Foster was involved with several calls throughout the game, despite being the farthest official from where the infractions occurred.
This is not the first time Paul and Foster's history has come up. Just last season, Paul and Harden were both tossed from a regular-season game with six fouls, P.J. Tucker was called for five fouls and Paul and coach Mike D'Antoni were both given technicals in a loss to the Lakers. Paul called Foster rude and arrogant after the game before wondering what else he could do to improve his relationship with him (he experienced similar issues with Foster in 2018, as well).
"I've met with the league with him before. I don't know what else to do," Paul told reporters at the time.
It may be cold comfort to Paul, but at least Foster's whistle didn't directly affect the final play of the game. The same can't be said for Game 2 of the Bucks-Heat series, which was marred by multiple bad calls at the end of regulation as the Heat went up 2-0 in the series.