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Suns’ HC Monty Williams criticizes referees after loss

Having seen Joel Embiid and Taylor Jenkins both get fined on Monday by the league for criticizing officials, will Williams be next?

Paul Rudder
Phoenix Suns’ HC Monty Williams criticizes referees after Game 4 loss to the New Orleans Pelicans leaves the series tied at 2-2
Stacy RevereAFP

With NBA refs coming under fire this weekend from differing corners, the Suns’ coach added his name to the list of those who weren’t in agreement with officials.

Suns’ HC Monty Williams blasts referee after loss to Pelicans

If you had any doubt as to how Phoenix Suns head coach Monty Williams felt after Sunday’s 118-103 loss in Game 4 against the New Orleans Pelicans, then you haven’t been paying attention. Williams made it abundantly clear that he was not at all happy with the manner in which the game was officiated. Referencing the 42 free throws given to the Pelicans versus the starkly lower 17 awarded to his team, Williams pointed to the physical nature of the game, which he believed was not reflected in the statistics post game. In total the Suns were called for 12 more fouls than the Pelicans who ultimately tied the series at 2-2 with their win.

“You can slice it any way you want to,” Williams told reporters. “In a playoff game that physical, (the disparity) is amazing. Coaches shouldn’t have to come up to the microphone and feel like they’re going to get their heads cut off for speaking the truth.”

How did the Suns vs Pelicans play out?

Whether the Suns’ coach is justified in his insinuations or not, the Pelicans should definitely be credited for their performance, something that Williams conceded while still lamenting the divide in free throws. “It’s not like we don’t attack the basket,” Williams said. “They outplayed us; they deserve to win. That’s a free throw disparity that you have to look’s hard (to) swallow.”

On the night New Orleans saw two of the key players step up. Brandon Ingram and Jonas Valanciunas combined to shoot 21 of the aforementioned 42 attempts from the free-throw line. In Ingram’s case he would go on to close out the night with a game high 30 points on 11-of-23 shooting. Incidentally, he would also become the first Pelicans player to score more than 30 points in three consecutive games. Where Valanciunas was concerned, his contribution wasn’t far behind as he ended the night with 26 points and an impressive 15 rebounds.

Suns’ Chris Paul wasn’t happy either

Speaking on the result, the Suns star guard Chris Paul showed a similar displeasure with the nature of the loss to that of his coach. Indeed, it was a quiet night for Paul who didn’t see the free throw line once on the night. Paul finished with just four points on 2-of-8 shooting to go with 11 assists. “It’s like the old NBA, isn’t it?” Paul said post game. “I asked one of the refs one time, ‘Are we playing in the old NBA or the new NBA?’ I was fortunate enough to play in both of them; we just have to figure out which one it’s going to be.”

The New Orleans Pelicans have their say

Speaking on the mindset of the team, Pelicans coach Willie Green explained that the plan was to get into paint an subsequently the free throw line. “We were being aggressive. ..They dominated the paint last game,” Green said. “Had 64 points in the paint. So we were well aware that we had to do better in that area.” In addition to mindset, it was also clear that a key part of the night’s strategy was to pressure and trap Chris Paul in the fourth quarter. It was something that the Pelicans had previously failed to do, but this time it worked very effectively. One of the key components in that process was the Pelicans’ Jose Alvarado, the undrafted rookie guard who has developed a reputation for high octane defensive pressure. Indeed at one point Alvarado appeared to get under Paul’s skin and even managed to force the Suns’ main man into an 8-second violation. To add insult to injury Alvarado also go two steals.

It was evident that Paul was rattled, as was clearly seen when he committed a flagrant foul on Herb Jones. Jones by the way was another constant thorn - three blocks and two steals - on the night. Yet those in attendance will surely give the night to Alvarado who seemed to be everywhere on the night. At one point the crowd in attendance at the Smoothie King Center began to chant the rhythmic “Jose, Jose, Jose” to the internationally known “Ole, ole, ole” melody of soccer fame. Post game, the Suns’ star guard could only concede while looking ahead to the next game. “He’s a good kid who plays hard,” Paul said of Alvarado. “He’s a really good energy guy. I’ll be better next game; I’ve got to be.”

What now for the Monty Williams and the Phoenix Suns?

With the series now tied, the Suns don’t necessarily need to panic, but they will want to both improve and apply caution at the same time. They are of course still without their other star Devin Booker who looks set to miss at the very least the rest of the series with New Orleans. There is also what is likely to be a fine for coach Monty Williams given that we’ve already seen two other fines handed out on Monday for the same exact thing - criticizing the referees. With that said Williams was focused and in no mood for excuses. “We can’t worry about [Booker],” Williams said. “Obviously, we need Book back, but that’s not why we lost the game.”


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