PHOENIX -- The Golden State Warriors succeeded at exactly what they set out to do Thursday night against the Phoenix Suns. They just didn't realize what the consequences would be.
Behemoth center Shaquille O'Neal, facing Golden State for the first time since moving to Arizona last month, was limited to just 15 minutes because of foul trouble.
But Phoenix showed that despite the acquisition of the 325-pound O'Neal, it hadn't forgotten how to excel at the small-ball style that has helped it win 177 games over the past three seasons.
Amare Stoudemire had 36 points and 11 rebounds, and Steve Nash added 21 points -- eight in the fourth quarter -- and 13 assists as the Suns outraced the Warriors to the finish line, 123-115.
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A season-high tying six 3-pointers from Baron Davis, part of a game-high 38-point performance, wasn't enough to force a passing of the torch in terms of Pacific Division fast-break champions.
The Warriors (40-24) had hoped to move within a half-game of the Suns (43-22) and be "nipping at their heels," as forward Al Harrington put it.
Instead, they got whacked with a metaphorical newspaper on the nose, losing for the fifth consecutive trip to US Airways Arena and kissing a three-game winning streak goodbye.
Despite using Davis, Monta Ellis and Stephen Jackson for 40 or more minutes Wednesday night against Toronto, Warriors coach Don Nelson went essentially seven deep for much of the first three quarters, trying to extend Golden State's winning streak over Phoenix to four games.
Fatigue appeared to catch up to the Warriors in the third quarter. Ellis shot 8 for 22 on the evening -- only the second time in 10 games that he didn't connect on 50 percent or better -- and missed wide-open 12-footers that he ordinarily would make blindfolded.
Jackson finished 4 for 13 and played only 29 minutes.
Phoenix outscored Golden State 38-22 in the third period. The Suns had already wiped out a five-point halftime deficit and led 78-75 when O'Neal drew his fifth foul -- caught red-handed giving Andris Biedrins a shove in the back as a rebound clanked off the iron -- and then a technical foul on top of that.
Jackson knocked down the technical free throw, but Phoenix embarked on a 15-3 run to create some significant separation in its favor for the first time all night.
Only Davis' dogged efforts kept the Warriors' first attempt against the new-look Suns from sliding into a 20-point blowout, but after Golden State closed to within 120-115 in the final minute on a putback bucket for Mickael Pietrus (16 points, eight rebounds), the Warriors didn't score again.