The Suns look to win consecutive games for the first time since acquiring O’Neal, who will try to avoid another poor performance against the Nuggets when the teams meet Tuesday night.
Phoenix (40-20) beat Portland 97-92 on Tuesday night despite getting just six points on 1-of-5 shooting from O’Neal.
The Suns had lost two straight and were 2-4 since acquiring O’Neal from Miami. They also have surrendered the top spot in the Pacific Division to the surging Los Angeles Lakers.
“We’re still a work in progress,” O’Neal said.
O’Neal has been a force on the boards, averaging 10.2 rebounds for Phoenix, but the veteran center is averaging just 9.7 points per game.
Against Denver on Dec. 2, O’Neal finished with six points on 3-of-7 shooting for Miami as the Heat lost 115-89. At that point, it was O’Neal’s lowest-scoring game of the season.
It also was O’Neal’s first game against the Nuggets (35-24) since Dec. 17, 2004. He missed Miami’s previous four games against Denver due to various injuries.
The Suns have handled the Nuggets well in recent years, winning two straight and 10 of the teams’ last 12 meetings. Amare Stoudemire had 20 points, 10 rebounds and three blocks in Phoenix’s 137-115 win over Denver on Jan. 7 in the most recent matchup.
Stoudemire led the Suns with 22 points versus the Trail Blazers. He is averaging 28.8 points and 10.1 rebounds while shooting 90.1 percent (100-for-111) from the free-throw line in his last 12 games.
With Stoudemire and O’Neal collapsing defenses, Suns general manager Steve Kerr signed guard Gordan Giricek on Tuesday to give the team another strong perimeter shooter.
Giricek, who had two points in seven minutes against Portland, shot a career-best 42.6 percent from 3-point range for Utah in 2006-07 and has averaged 9.6 points in 362 NBA games. He was waived by Philadelphia on Friday.
Denver, meanwhile, is coming off one of its worst shooting performances of the season, making just 41.8 percent (33-for-79) from the field in a 103-89 loss to Houston on Sunday night. The Nuggets struggled against the red-hot Rockets after averaging 124.0 points en route to wins in each of their previous two games.
A matchup with Phoenix should help Denver’s offense bounce back. The Suns are allowing 104.7 points per game.
Allen Iverson had a game-high 32 points on 10-for-20 shooting for the Nuggets in January’s matchup with the Suns. The star guard, though, was held to 17 points and went 7-for-22 from the floor versus Houston, two days after a 38-point performance in a win over the Los Angeles Clippers.
“If I struggle … it’s going to be tough for us to win games,” said Iverson, who is averaging 34.0 points in his last three games against Phoenix.
Denver may be without top reserve and third-leading scorer Linas Kleiza for the second straight game. The third-year forward, averaging 11.3 points a contest, is questionable with sprained left foot.