Just exactly HOW good is this Suns’ offense we hear and read so much about?

So good that it can overcome any defense, including their own, that’s how good. Only Memphis and Golden State give up more points in the NBA, but NOBODY scores more points.

Shawn Marion dunks against the Milwaukee Bucks on Saturday night.

(NBAE Photos)

All of which made this latest victory pretty much a typical night at the office for your Pacific Division/Western Conference leaders.

In other words, the Suns gave up 68 points in the first half, but stayed close enough with 61 themselves, then simply wore down the Bucks in the third period to register their 20th consecutive home court victory over them in a streak that began back in 1988.

It is an article of faith among NBA old timers that there are only two great plays — South Pacific and pick and roll. But the Suns defended in that first half like they’d only seen one, and alas it was the one starring Mary Martin, not the one starring John Stockton and Karl Malone.

It was almost as though the Bucks won the toss and elected to receive, and the Suns chose to defend neither goal.

But since this is a victory celebration, not a wake, one hastens to add the Suns held the Bucks to just 17 points in the third period and 46 for the half, and the natural inclination is to say they tightened their defense considerably after intermission. But Coach Mike said, “not so fast there.”

“Basically,” he grinned, “we just wore ‘em out by scoring. That’s what we do. There were no technical adjustments at half time. We just played with a lot more energy, and the big thing to me is that proves we CAN play some decent defense.”

Score the Suns certainly did. Steve Nash, bouncing back from the bug that sidelined him the last game and a half, scored 35 points – 26 in the second half – while hitting 13 of 17 from the field and five of his seven tries from Arc City.

And even as Nash led the second half charge Amare kept the team in the game with 21 of his 31 points in the first half.

But you sort of expect nights like that from Amare and Steve, and the difference maker in this one was actually the new guy from France.

I know everybody else claims this is not a new guy, and that in fact he’s been here all along. But there is no way this was the same Boris Diaw that’s been frustrating Suns’ coaches and fans much of the last two years. The only basket that Diaw went to was one at Safeway, whereas this one was an aggressive tiger who stormed the hoop for 21 points and 11 rebounds.

And what with Grant Hill recovering from an appendectomy that’s expected to sideline him for two to three weeks, the emergence of the tiger in Boris’s tank could hardly have come at a more opportune time.

But enough about Boris. Raja Bell deserves at least one paragraph of his own for eight of his 13 points, including two treys, in that turnaround third period, plus some outstanding defense against Milwaukee star Michael Redd, four blocked shots and three steals.

The bottom line: The bottom line in hoops is still the final score, and defense or no defense, nobody in the West has a better one than the Suns. (A bottom line, that is).