Big Game Player: Scott Foster

Houston 104 OKC 102

Jim Rome
September 03, 2020 - 10:02 am
Scott Foster

USA Today

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Things are really weird in the NBA bubble and absolutely nothing is guaranteed. But here is a stone cold lock and something you can absolutely take to the bank: there is no way that Scott Foster was going to let Marc Davis upstage him.

It will be a cold day in hell when Scott Foster isn’t the most tweeted about referee in basketball. Marc Davis will have to fight Scott Foster to take that title.

Especially when it’s a Game 7 involving Chris Paul and James Harden. Scott Foster reffing a CP3-Beard Game 7? Are you kidding me?

James Harden had lost 7 straight playoff games officiated by Scott Foster, which is completely insane.

Until you learn that Chris Paul had lost 8 straight playoff games officiated by Scott Foster. Oh, and according to Paul, Scott Foster told him before the game that he reffed the Game 7 in 2008 when Paul’s Hornets lost to the Spurs.

Because of course he did. Scott Foster knows who the star is in a Game 7. It’s Scott Foster. And Foster made his presence known early, like calling a delay of game on Paul in the first half.

Here’s Paul’s description of what happened.

Hell yes, Scott Foster is the best. That was a Scott Foster game and he wants you to know it.

Except for most of the game, it wasn’t. For most of the game, the star was Lou Dort. In a game that featured at three likely Hall of Famers on the floor and two more coaching, the undrafted rookie from Arizona State was the biggest star. He had 30 points last night and in doing so, joined Michael Jordan and Kobe Bryant as the only players under the age of 21 to have 25 points or more in a Game 7.

Let me read that list one more time:

Michael Jordan

Kobe Bryant

Lou Dort

You know, the three guys you think of together all the time. MJ, Kobe, and Dort. Incredible. Absolutely incredible. And he really was that good. For all the talk that he’s there for his defense and that Houston would be willing to just let him shoot, he was keeping OKC in it all night.

Meanwhile, James Harden was having a horrible night shooting. He was 4 of 15 from the field or as he said himself after the game.

That’s how upside down this series was and how upside down the world has become. Lou Dort was shooting out the lights and James Harden couldn’t buy a basket. Harden wasn’t even the best former Sun Devil on the floor.

And then came the final minute of the game. And it went from two NBA teams with serious professionals to a couple of Division III college basketball teams flopping all over the place. Everyone was looking to take a charge on everyone and bodies were hitting the floor left and right.

There has been some weird-ass basketball in the bubble the last two days and the final 90 seconds of last night just might have been the weirdest.

PJ Tucker gave the Rockets a 103-102 lead with 1:25 left to go in the game. And then on a night where Harden could not score, he made the biggest defensive play of the game and of the season. With a perfect close out block. All ball, none of the body. Was that The Beard or The Worm on that play? Harden executed that flawlessly. Just perfection when they needed it most.

And he let rip with a massive yell of “motherbleeper” when he was done.

And not only did he nail the series-winning block, but he chased it with the classic dodgeball split jump to make sure Dort couldn’t throw it off him out of bounds. Outstanding.

And it is a good reminder for everyone who’s stuck on the idea that Harden doesn’t really play defense. He led the league in steals this year. He was sixth in deflections. And in the biggest moment of the season, he was there to save them.

And then Scott Foster jumped in. Because there was no way Scott Foster was letting James Harden upstage him.

The refs ruled that Dort did not establish himself in bounds before catching the blocked shot, so it was Houston’s ball. The Rockets in bound and Robert Covington is fouled. He made one of two free throws, so OKC still had a chance.

And then it got even more strange. OKC is about to in-bound, down by two, and the refs called a timeout, and then changed their mid and called a foul.

So I’m still not exactly sure what happened. One ref is calling a foul and another is calling timeout. And by the way, if you thought the fouls in the Bucks-Heat game were soft, the alleged foul on the in-bounds was the softest thing ever. Holy crap, I don’t know what got into the refs last night, but they were having themselves a night.

And now it’s Foster time. Some men are built for the moment and some aren’t. Scott Foster is most definitely built for the moment. And when there isn’t a moment, he’s willing to create a moment just for himself.

Ultimately, the refs decided that the foul came before the timeout call and because it was before the ball was in-bounded, OKC would take a technical free throw and then in-bound again. So now they’ve gone from needing two to tie it, to making a free throw and a two will win it.

Except they missed the free throw, so they’re still down by two.

And then came OKC’s final attempt, and shai gilgeous-alexander descides to throw it to Stephen Adams around the 3 point line. 

First of all, I kept waiting for about five minutes after the buzzer to make sure that Scott Foster wasn’t going to wave it off and bring everyone back on the court. 

But that really was the end of the game. And if that was the end of the game, what exactly was that? I know it was great defense by Houston on the in-bounds, but we waited all of that time for an in-bounds pass that ultimately went to a busted up Steven Adams out by the three point line running away from the basket?

Where was Chris Paul down the stretch? This is the guy who was doing a lot of talking about clutch moments and the idea that "some people built for it, some people shy away from it” and he didn’t really seem to be part of it. He telegraphed a pass in the final minute and was lucky he didn’t turn it over right there.

According to the play-by-play transcript, in the final three minutes, seven seconds of the game, Paul had a turnover, a loose ball foul, a defensive rebound, and a missed seven footer. That’s it.

If you’re going to subtly troll James Harden for not showing up in the fourth quarter, you better do more than that. Because when it was clutch time last night, when the moment was the biggest, James Harden saved his team. Chris Paul didn’t.