Monty Williams Mar 13, 2023; San Francisco, California, USA; Phoenix Suns head coach Monty Williams stands near the team bench during action against the Golden State Warriors in the second quarter at the Chase Center. Mandatory Credit: Cary Edmondson-USA TODAY Sports

The Phoenix Suns were defeated by the Los Angeles Lakers on Wednesday night, 122-111.

And when the game was over, Phoenix’s coach, Monty Williams didn’t talk about a lot of things. He did talk a lot about one thing — a dramatic free throw difference between the two teams.

The Lakers attempted 46 free throws, more than doubling the Suns, who had 20 attempts. In his press conference, Williams shared that he’s been told that Phoenix is taking too many jump shots, leading to the difference in free throw attempts.

In his postgame press conference (H/T Melissa Rohlin, Fox Sports), Williams made it clear that he was not buying it.

“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, that’s not right. I don’t care how you slice it. It’s happening to us too much. Other teams are reaching. Other teams are hitting. We’re not getting the same calls. And I’m tired of it. It’s old — 46 to 20 free throws. With Devin Booker on our team. He gets 12. Our bench had no free throws. That’s just. I’m over it.”

Williams shared that it’s not a one-game problem. He referenced his team’s previous game, a 124-120 loss to the Oklahoma City Thunder. In that game, the Thunder attempted 36 free throws to only 24 for the Suns, with OKC star Shai Gilgeous-Alexander attempting 19 on his own.

“I’ve been talking about the same thing for a while. It doesn’t matter what team it is. Last game, Shai gets, I think he had 19 free throws. And it’s old. I’m tired of talking about free throws. Our guys have to do our job. We understand that. But that’s a huge disparity — 46 free throws. And I’ll say it again, 46 to 20. That’s it. That’s all I’ve got to say.”

Does Williams have a point?

To an extent, yes. The free-throw discrepancies are massive. Some of that can be attributed to the Suns shooting a lot of mid-range jumpers. Those certainly don’t lend themselves to fouls in the way that driving to the hoop does. Even noting that, the differences are immense.

But Phoenix is also not a great defensive team. With that, the Suns may be more vulnerable to being a half-step behind their opponents. That leads to fouls.

Time will tell if these words end up making a difference. It’s not uncommon for coaches to posture about officiating, particularly as the postseason gets closer. And the Suns have now lost five of their last six games. So, there’s some heavy work that needs to be done.

[Melissa Rohlin]

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