'That's it': Monty Williams fumes over free-throw disparity after Suns loss to Lakers

LOS ANGELES – Phoenix Suns coach Monty Williams is so done with the fouling, free throw disparity and talking about all the above.

After his team was called for 31 fouls for a second straight game, Williams went off on a 90-second rant that ended with him leaving the press room in complete disgust following Wednesday's 122-111 loss to the Los Angeles Lakers before a crowd of 18,435 at Arena.

"Forty-six free throws," Williams ranted. "And I'll say it again, 46 to 20. That's it. That's all I got to say."

The Lakers (36-37) shot 36-of-46 on free throws while the Suns (38-34) finished 15-of-20 in losing for the fifth time in their last six games.

"I'm tired of talking about free throws," Williams said. "Our guys have to do their job, we understand that, but that's a huge disparity."

The Suns are still fourth in the West, but are only a half-game ahead of the Clippers (38-35) and just one game ahead of the defending NBA champion Warriors (38-36), who won Wednesday at Dallas.

"We've got to overcome in spite of," Suns All-Star Chris Paul on the disparity in fouls and free throws. "Got to find a way."

Devin Booker scored a game-high 33 points to lead the Suns while Paul added 18 points, but was called for five fouls. Anthony Davis paced the Lakers with 27 points while D'Angelo Russell and Austin Reaves went for 26 and 25 points, respectively.

Phoenix was without Kevin Durant (ankle) and Deandre Ayton (hip). The Suns conclude their three-game road trip Friday at Sacramento (43-29).

"We're just trying to find ways to deal with it," Booker said of the disparities with free throws and fouls Wednesday. "For everybody that's saying we're complaining too much, the game was on live TV. You can go re-watch it and see where the frustrations are coming from."

For subscribers:Suns issues go beyond free throws and personal fouls disparity

A calmer Williams said before the game the Suns have to stop fouling, as they were called for 31 in Sunday's loss at Oklahoma City. The Thunder went 29-of-36 from the line to Phoenix going 17-of-24.

OKC was called for 20 fouls.

"We've got to stop fouling," Williams said pregame. "We have to have foul awareness."

Then Williams proceeded to watch the Suns once again wind up on the wrong end of the foul and free throw disparity.

He's had it up to here with it.

"I can sit here and rant and rave about what I feel like is not a fair whistle," Williams said. "It's just not. Forty-six free throws. We're doing the same thing. We're attacking the rim. I'm getting explanations about we're taking too many jump shots, midrange jump shots. We're playing a physical game. They had 27 free throws in the first half. They end up with 46. When do you see a game with 46 free throws for one team? That's just not right."

It's the most free throws an opponent has shot against Phoenix this season, but the Rockets attempted 43 (made 34) in a win on Dec. 2 over the Suns in Houston.

On the flip side, Phoenix attempted a season-high 41 (made 28) in a Jan. 19 win at Brooklyn.

Still, the way Wednesday's game unfolded left the Suns frustrated and upset starting with their head coach.

"I don't care how you slice it, it's happening too much," Williams said. "Other teams are reaching, other teams are hitting and we're not getting the same call and I'm tired of it. It's old."

The frustration started early when Paul was called for his first foul with 8:33 left in the first quarter on a Reaves basket.

"I was like, 'That ain't no foul,' and Austin Reaves was like, 'Nah, it wasn't,'" Paul explained after the game. "That's the game. Every call isn't going to be perfect or every game called. We're just trying to find the balance. I think that's the thing. Trying to find the balance and we've got to be better. I don't think all of them are missed, but it's a little weird looking."

The Suns trailed 59-52 at the half.

Then midway through the third quarter, Booker was called for an offensive foul on Jarred Vanderbilt as he took a hit to the face on the play.

"I don't know how that's foul on me," Booker said. "Just trying to fight through. We still had a chance to win, but 46 to 20, that's a lot."

Down 74-64, Phoenix challenged the call and won it as Vanderbilt wound up getting the defensive foul call, but the Suns used their challenge and still had a little more than 18 minutes left to play.

"That's usually what we try to explain to them," Booker said. "I hope they can understand the importance of that. We don't want to use it then, but you're giving me an offensive foul. He said I cut (Vanderbilt) off."

The Suns came into the game fifth in the NBA in most fouls committed per game at 21.4.

They exceeded that number in their last six games – and lost five of those.

They committed 31 fouls in each of their last two games – and lost both.

As insane as this looks, this is more than just the whistle going against Phoenix.

The Suns aren’t the same defensive team they were with Mikal Bridges, who was part of the Durant blockbuster deal that sent arguably the league's best on-ball defender to Brooklyn.

They went to more of a rotation geared towards offensive players, not defensive-minded ones, Wednesday.

Durant can make up for some of Phoenix’s flaws, but if the Suns don't improve on the defensive end, they’re going to have a tough time winning even when he returns.

The two-time finals MVP is scheduled for a re-evaluation next week.

Have opinion about current state of the Suns? Reach Suns Insider Duane Rankin at or contact him at 480-787-1240. Follow him on Twitter at @DuaneRankin.

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This article originally appeared on Arizona Republic: Foul troubles continue to haunt Phoenix Suns in loss to Lakers