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‘A super easy guy to play with’ Royce O’Neale fitting in seamlessly with Suns

© Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

In only his sixth game with the Phoenix Suns (34-24) and first start, Royce O’Neale tied his career high with 20 points in the Suns’ 123-113 win over the Los Angeles Lakers yesterday afternoon.

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O’Neale achieved this after scoring a season-low one point on 0-of-5 shooting in Phoenix’s 114-110 loss Friday night to the Houston Rockets.

Against LA, O’Neale also had 10 rebounds, four assists and tied a career high with six 3-pointers (out of 10). For the game, the Suns had a plus/minus of +22 with O’Neale on the court, while no other Suns’ player recorded better than a +9. This means Phoenix outscored Los Angeles by 22 when O’Neale was on the court.

“I don’t think it was a slump game, bounce-back. In basketball, you miss shots,” O’Neale said postgame. “You can say it was a slump game, bounce-back, but I take every game as it is. Make shots, miss shots, I’m still gonna play the same every game.”

Video credit to AZ Central’s Dana Scott

O’Neale iced the game and did a little dance when he hit his sixth 3-pointer to put Phoenix up 121-108 with 1:24 remaining.

“(O’Neale) is a super easy guy to play with,” said Suns’ guard Grayson Allen, who also made six 3s yesterday. “He is one of those guys you can plug right in, and he helps the team. He has been great defensively for us. We have asked him to guard a bunch of different matchups one through five; he has been good. He helps out on the boards, even if it is not him getting the rebound, he is really physical with blocking guys out. He is not afraid to take shots and make them. That was big tonight. Big when he hit the one at the end of the game there to seal the game and put them away.”

Phoenix acquired the 30-year-old O’Neale at the trade deadline on Feb. 8 from the Brooklyn Nets, as well as David Roddy from the Memphis Grizzlies in exchange for four players, three second-round picks and a pick swap.

Coming off a two-game losing streak, the Suns, who were without Bradley Beal and Eric Gordon, needed all the help they could get, and they got that and more from O’Neale and others.

All five of the Suns’ starters had 18 points or more, the first time this has happened in franchise history.

“Royce is so experienced as far as playing with (Kevin) Durant and playing with the (experienced) teams and not afraid to shoot the ball I feel like,” Suns’ center Jusuf Nurkić said. “He shoot the ball well tonight, but even in past games, he was shooting those, open shots, and I think that’s the main reason we brought him here. When they swing that ball that he is not in a way hesitant. I think he’s great defensively, (he) give us a you know, actual available body to switch and guard multiple positions. So love the addition and hopefully we can just build on this.”

O’Neale is now averaging 8.7 points on 40/40/40 splits, 6.2 rebounds, 2.7 assists and 1.8 steals in his six games with Phoenix. With the Nets this season, the 6-foot-6 O’Neale averaged 7.4 points and 4.5 rebounds in 24.5 minutes per game across 49 contests.

The Suns now have three full days off and next play the Rockets (25-31) at home Thursday night.

Royce O’Neale excited to join Suns in push for title run

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Brendan Mau is a senior writer covering the Phoenix Suns and more for Burn City Sports. You can follow him on X via @Brendan_Mau

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