Chris Paul reignites beef with referee as Golden State Warriors fall short in Phoenix

Golden State Warriors v Phoenix Suns
Golden State Warriors v Phoenix Suns / Christian Petersen/GettyImages

Chris Paul's return to Phoenix was a short-lived one on Wednesday night, with the veteran point-guard ejected in the first-half of the Golden State Warriors' 123-115 loss to the Suns at Footprint Center.

The 38-year-old's long-running feud with referee Scott Foster exploded late in the second-quarter, leading to Paul's departure after two technical fouls and an additional third to head coach Steve Kerr.

The Golden State Warriors have sunk to their seventh loss in the last eight games, falling short after an unlikely second-half comeback effort.

Paul's ejection capped a disastrous second-quarter for the Warriors where they were outscored 37-16 following a promising start in the opening period. By half-time Golden State had racked up 11 turnovers and conceded 27 free-throws, providing the ammunition for a 63-47 Phoenix lead.

It was more of the same in the third-quarter as the Warriors were perilous to stop Suns' stars Devin Booker and Kevin Durant. With little energy or comeback inspiration forthcoming, Kerr turned deep to his bench and inserted Cory Joseph and Gui Santos.

The unusual lineup of Joseph, Brandin Podziemski, Moses Moody, Santos and Dario Saric provided the boost, initiating a 15-3 run that sensationally brought the Phoenix lead back to 10. That was short-lived though, with the Suns briefly pouring water on any comeback chances.

But just as Durant went to the bench and the game looked dead, he and Booker were forced to return as Golden State's reserves again breathed life. The Warriors cut it to three with 19 seconds left, before Booker and Durant ultimately sealed the game at the free-throw line.

Klay Thompson was a positive for Golden State, tallying a season-high for the second-straight game. The 33-year-old had 11 points in the first-quarter and made six of his 10 three-point attempts, recording 23 points to lead the Warriors in scoring for the first time this season.

Stephen Curry's run of four-made three-pointers in every game this season came to end, shooting just 1-8 from three-point range amid 16 points on 15 field-goal attempts. Given the two-time MVP's struggles, Paul's ejection, a lack of production from Andrew Wiggins, and 56 combined points from Durant and Booker, it was quite astonishing that Golden State got as close as they did down the stretch.

Saric led the second-unit with 17 points, six rebounds, four assists and two steals, while Podziemski got going late with 10 points, four rebounds, two assists and three steals. The 19th overall pick was also a team-high +20 in the game, with four of the five Warrior starters a -14 or worse.

Golden State worked up to an efficient 47.8% shooting from the floor, but were undone by Phoenix's 52 free-throw attempts (the most by a Warrior opponent since 2015) of which they made 44. Each team had 15 turnovers and 11 offensive rebounds, while the Suns made 11 threes to the Warriors 10.

The Warriors have now fallen to a further worrisome 7-9 record, with the Suns moving to 9-6 on the season. Golden State will head home to face the San Antonio Spurs in an In-Season Tournament game at Chase Center on Friday night.