BOSTON (NBA.com exclusive) -- Conventional wisdom might have told you that the Boston Celtics' defense would brick wall the running offense of the Phoenix Suns on Friday night. But it was Steve Nash and the Suns' attack that proved too much as they handed the Celtics their first loss of the season 110-103.
It was one of the simplest stories in basketball.
"When it came down to it, they made shots and we didn't," Paul Pierce said.
With both teams making half their attempts and the pace to the visitor's liking, it was clear during the second half that the win would go to the shotmaker. For most of the night, that was the Suns, who held an 11-point lead with eight minutes remaining.
"The game was fast," Kevin Garnett said. "We knew that coming into this game it wasn't going to be a lock it up [type of game]."
Shortly into the fourth, the Celtics had already surrendered their highest point total of the young season and things had the feeling of "one of those nights" when an alley-layup to Kevin Garnett rimmed out. But jumpers quickly got wet and the game got wild.
Boston's run began in earnest when Rasheed Wallace sunk one off the glass to bring Boston within seven with six minutes to go. But Phoenix had an answer for everything, fighting off a Ray Allen three, a Rajon Rondo putback and a thunderous baseline dunk from Allen.
The Suns hit shot after shot, the biggest of which came from Nash, a contested 3-pointer with under a minute to play. With that shot, the Suns gained a seven-point lead. The game was theirs.
Jason Richardson dropped in 34 points and Nash had 12 assists, but the numbers of the night came from Garnett, who had his best line of the season: 26 points, eight rebounds and four assists. And though the win might discourage those clinging to the false hope of Boston challenging the all-time win total, it's been clear all season that the Celtics have a ways to go.
"It's going to be awhile before that whole chemistry, that flow, comes through. It is a work in progress," Garnett said.
"They can see the slippage," Celtics coach Doc Rivers said.
It was apparent in every quarter.
Until a late push by Boston, the third quarter belonged to Nash. The Celtics couldn't get out of their own way as untimely turnovers and open misses cost them any momentum. But Nash was finding teammate after teammate as he manufactured the burning pace. Still, the Celtics clawed their way back to a two-point deficit entering the fourth.
In the second, the Celtics found themselves down by as much as 11 because of miscues. Open looks clanked and they turned the ball over at least twice before even crossing midcourt. The turnovers didn't lead directly to points, but they led to the Suns' bread-and-butter transition game. And by halftime, though the Celtics were shooting better (53.8 percent), all seven turnovers turned into points for Phoenix.
Beyond their scoring effort, the Suns still needed people to do the dirty work, and two players with 16 combined points stepped up to be the garbage men. Rivers made a point of singling out Jared Dudley and Louis Amundson as the players that got under the Celtics' skin.
"The two most important guys on the floor tonight was Amundson and Dudley," Rivers said. "When they came in the game I thought the game changed. [Dudley] was just a thorn in our butt."
Because Dudley (3-for-6) did what his team did to win: he didn't just shoot shots, he shot makes.
As much as there is lyrical truth to the ongoing battle between offense and defense, there was nothing poetic about the way the Suns won. They lured the Celtics into their game and beat them at it, simple as that.