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Suns’ Chris Paul is painfully aware of his playoff history with referee Scott Foster



Suns' Chris Paul is painfully aware of his playoff history with referee Scott Foster

Chris Paul had one number on his mind Thursday night after the Suns’ Game 3 loss to the Lakers: 11.

Was it about his stats? Paul had seven points, six assists and five rebounds in 27 minutes, so no. Was it about the final score or the margin of victory? Los Angeles won 109-95, so nope. Ah, it must have been about Phoenix’s 3-point shooting because the team went 11 of 29 from deep, right? Wrong again.

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No, the 36-year-old landed on that magic number because of his connection — or rather, his ongoing feud — with referee Scott Foster. Paul repeatedly said “11 games in a row” at the end of his postgame press conference, a reference to the number of consecutive losses for Paul in playoff games officiated by Foster.

“We’ve got to try to limit their free throw attempts. They’re shooting a lot of free throws, last game, tonight,” Paul said. “I mean, if I was a betting man, 11 games in a row, 11 games in a row. We’ll see what happens — 11 in a row, 11 in a row is tough.”

As The Action Network noted, Paul has lost those 11 straight playoff games refereed by Foster with four different teams: the Clippers (0-5), Rockets (0-4), Thunder (0-1) and Suns (0-1). He has clashed with Foster several times throughout his career, including during last year’s playoffs in the Florida “bubble” when Paul criticized Foster for what he believed was an unnecessary delay of game call.

“Scott Foster walked over to me and told me, ‘Chris, you ain’t got to do that. I got them sweeping up the floor,'” Paul said at the time. “OK, cool. So I started tying my shoe back up, and he still called delay of game. That s— don’t make no sense. I don’t know. That’s crazy. He just — we could have won the game, but that situation, the league knows. 

“They’re going to fine me. I said his name. We already know the history.”

Foster has earned his fair share of criticism for questionable calls in the past, but the Lakers’ advantage at the free throw line was due in large part to their aggressiveness attacking the paint, particularly in the second half. They also outrebounded the Suns 51-35 overall and 15-8 on the offensive glass. On top of that, Paul has been unable to play up to his usual standards as he continues to deal with a nagging shoulder injury.

But when the anger and frustration runs this deep, none of that matters. Paul only sees Foster and that damn 11.

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Padres’ Manny Machado wore the perfect Father’s Day footwear



Padres' Manny Machado wore the perfect Father's Day footwear

Manny Machado’s got heat on feet. Kind of.

While ostentatious, loud and colorful cleats are all the rage in baseball, the Padres’ star third baseman dialed it down on Father’s Day. Like, a lot down.

Machado took the field wearing a pair of Nike Air Monarch cleats — the preeminent, iconic dad shoe — during San Diego’s Dad Day matchup vs. the Reds.

The Monarchs have fostered a reputation for being an unforgettable dad-worn sneaker, making Machado’s footwear a tremendous salute to fathers (and grillmasters) around the country.

What makes the cleats even better is that they are in the classic white, silver and navy blue colorway, which is the only way to wear those bad boys. While these are Jordan Brand player-exclusive cleats, they’re dad-exclusive away from the field.

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Machado has worn all different makes of cleats throughout his career, usually flashy and gaudy types. The All-Star infielder has worn Jordan 11s, 12s, 4s and a bunch of others on the field.

Still, lacing up a pair of Grillmaster 5s on Father’s Day earned him plenty of praise from fans who understood the tribute:

You’ll probably be able to catch Machado after the game at a BBQ near you, likely cracking some bad puns and calling everyone “big guy.”

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Nets’ Kevin Durant joining Team USA for Tokyo Olympics after Game 7 loss vs. Bucks, report says



Nets' Kevin Durant joining Team USA for Tokyo Olympics after Game 7 loss vs. Bucks, report says

Kevin Durant isn’t going to be taking much time off this summer.

In fact, he appears to be ready for more action despite playing all 53 minutes of the Nets’ Game 7 overtime loss to the Bucks and scoring a game-high 48 points. And he’s joining another super team that has title hopes.

According to Shams Charania of The Athletic, Durant is expected to commit to Team USA ahead of the Tokyo Olympics.

Durant would become the sixth player to commit to Team USA, joining another player with Olympic experience, Draymond Green, and four first-time Olympians: Damian Lillard, Jayson Tatum, Bradley Beal and Devin Booker.

MORE: Kevin Durant blames ‘big-ass foot’ for loss to the Suns

Durant competed in both the 2012 and 2016 Olympics. He averaged 19.5 points at the 2016 Games in Rio de Janeiro and 19.4 points at the 2012 London Olympics.

In addition, Durant shot 54.6 percent from the shorter-range international 3-point line at the two tournaments and has compiled a 39-0 record in international play.

Team USA can now turn its attention to its remaining question marks with Durant’s commitment reportedly secured. Anthony Davis and LeBron James won’t be participating in this year’s Olympics, but Stephen Curry was “50-50” about competing in the event.

Either way, Team USA should be considered the top threat at the 2021 Summer Games with Durant in the fold.

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Yankees secure win vs. Athletics with another triple play, tie MLB record



Yankees secure win vs. Athletics with another triple play, tie MLB record

If a double play is a pitcher’s best friend, then what’s a triple play?

The Yankees had already turned two triple plays this season before Sunday, including one that has literally never been seen before in MLB history. Then they pulled off one more, and it couldn’t have come at a better time.

With the Yankees teetering on the brink of danger in the ninth inning, closer Aroldis Chapman got A’s catcher Sean Murphy to ground to third baseman Gio Urshela, who stepped on the bag and relayed to DJ LeMahieu, who then threw to Chris Gittens for the 5-4-3 game-ender.

It was a record-tying play by the Yankees: The high-water mark for triple plays turned in a season is three, with the feat most recently accomplished by the White Sox in 2016.

The Yankees’ second triple play of the year — a 1-3-6-2-5-6 triple killing vs. the Blue Jays on June 17 — had never accomplished in baseball history:

The around-the-horn game-ending triple play on Father’s Day secured a 2-1 victory over Oakland and gave New York the series win over a hot A’s team. New York moves to 38-33 and continues to right the ship in an up-and-down season.

But, hey, that’s a pretty cool gift for dads everywhere.

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