HOUSTON – Even though the Houston Rockets lost their first game after the All-Star break to the Los Angeles Lakers, despite holding a 19-point third quarter lead, most of the questions asked after the game were about the ongoing issues the team has with NBA referee Scott Foster.
Both James Harden, who fouled out for the first time this season, and Chris Paul were very clear about their feelings for Foster.
In response to a question about what he thought of the fouls he was called for, Harden initiated the conversation about Foster.
“Scott Foster man, he’s uhhh, I never really talk about officiating or anything like that, just rude and arrogant," Harden said.
"You aren’t able to talk to him throughout the course of a game. And it’s like how do you improve that relationship with officials.
"And it’s not even that call, it’s just who he is on that floor," Harden added.
"It’s pretty frustrating. I’m probably going to get hit (with a fine for talking about officiating). Honestly I don’t really say anything, I’m a pretty quiet guy to my self.
"It’s one of those things where you can’t voice your opinion you can’t have a conversation with someone that’s officiating the game and you’re getting a tech. That’s pretty sad."
It was pointed out to Harden that Paul had similar comments about Foster last season,
"That’s another thing, last year in the postseason, in the western conference finals, I think he officiated a couple of our games," Harden said.
"It’s just lingering, it’s something that has to be looked at for sure."
Foster refereed game 1 and game 7 of the 2018 western conference finals, Houston lose both games, though Paul did not play in game 7 after he injured his hamstring in game 5.
Harden was asked if he thought it was personal issue with Foster, he said he'd prefer if the league kept Foster from officiating their games.
"Yeah, for sure. For sure it’s personal. For sure," Harden said.
"Like I don’t think he should be able to even you know, officiate our games anymore, honestly."
Harden doesn't talk about officiating often and said, "I don’t really talk about officials or anything, but I think just for him in particular, he’s different."
Paul had less to say, mainly because he's said similar things about Foster before.
"I mean, I don’t know what else to do you know what I mean," Paul said. "Met with the league with him before and all this stuff, I don’t know what else to do."
Last season, following a win over Portland, Paul, who'd been assessed a technical foul by Foster wiht under five minutes remaining, told the media, "Yeah, Scott Foster at his finest. You know what I mean, He just never fails."
Also adding, "That's history there. He's the man, that's who they pay to see."
In Wednesday night's game, Foster had issued a technical foul to Paul with just 33 seconds left in the game and the Rockets down by four points. Paul appeared to be upset over two crucial calls that went against the Rockets, including a call made three minutes earlier when Paul turned the ball over, but thought the ball was kicked.
When pressed on the issues with Foster and asked directly if he thought the issues were personal, an exasperated Paul said, "I just don’t know what else to do. Just keep playing.
"I don’t know what else to do."