Just in case you were wondering about the risks of being a streaky jump-shooting team, the Warriors illustrated them in high definition Thursday night.
Where Phoenix kept running pick-and-roll plays that led to Steve Nash feeding Amare Stoudemire for another earth-shaking power slam -- and a 54.9 percent shooting percentage -- the best the Warriors offense could offer mostly was an open jump shot of 15 feet or more.
So even though Golden State turned over the ball only seven times -- leading to just two baskets for the Suns -- a 41.0 shooting percentage from the floor doomed the Warriors to a 123-115 defeat.
"They got more open shots," Warriors swingman Stephen Jackson said in an economical assessment. "And they hit them."
That hadn't been a problem for the Warriors, who have lit it up this month against porous defensive teams such as Toronto (55.7 percent), Miami (54.1 percent) and Atlanta (54.5 percent). But Thursday's loss pointed out exactly how fragile that formula can be on a given night.
"It always comes down to execution for us and making shots," Warriors forward Al Harrington said. "We're an offensive team. We're first in scoring and last in defense. We just outscore teams, and we need to be, if not on, then close -- or have one of those spurts or two spurts a game where we score 20 points straight."
Even though Golden State turned 16 Phoenix turnovers into 20 easy points, it never got into any kind of rhythm with its jump shooting. Remove Baron Davis' out-of-his-gourd evening of 38 points, and the Warriors hit 37.3 percent of their shots, 28.6 on 3-pointers.
"We just didn't make shots," coach Don Nelson said, noting guard Monta Ellis' 8-for-22 line. "I thought Monta showed fatigue again, so maybe I better start getting him a little rest."
For some players, 8 for 22 isn't a particularly poor night, but with Ellis' phenomenal efficiency over the last six weeks -- 58.4 percent in the previous 20 games -- the bar has been raised.
"Trust me, tonight was not my first time, it won't be my last time shooting like that throughout my career," Ellis said. "It just wasn't my night tonight."
It wasn't just Ellis who struggled, however. The Suns, looking to keep newly acquired center Shaquille O'Neal from having to chase a smaller counterpart such as Harrington or Austin Croshere out to the 3-point line, played a 2-3 zone whenever he was on the floor.
That situation should be easy money for a team whose very existence, it sometimes seems, is based on converting from long distance. The Warriors lead the league by a wide margin in 3-pointers taken, at 27.1 per game.
Instead, Harrington went 1 for 4 and Jackson 1 for 5 from distance. Matt Barnes was a painful 0 for 4 from the floor in five minutes.
"I'm not sure we ever made them pay the price (for the zone)," Nelson said. "If that's ever going to work, we've got to make outside shots from our big outside shooters that, for whatever reason, are not shooting the ball very well right now."
Despite the loss, the Warriors do still have the one thing that's absolutely critical for a jump-shooting team to succeed: confidence.
"We like the matchup with anybody," Jackson said. "Especially when we're hitting shots."