As part of plan to rest aging veteran, Suns give O'Neal night off

11/7/2008 - NBA Shaquille O'Neal Phoenix Suns + more

CHICAGO -- Phoenix Suns center Shaquille O'Neal got the night off against the Chicago Bulls on Friday night, part of a plan to rest him periodically throughout the season.

"The thought process, in some of our back-to-backs is try to give him some kind of rest," Suns coach Terry Porter said.

O'Neal is averaging 12 points and 8.2 rebounds in the Suns' 4-1 start. Porter expects him back in the lineup Saturday against the Milwaukee Bucks.

"Most likely he probably will play, in that type of scenario when they have a post presence. And historically (Andrew) Bogut has hurt the Phoenix Suns in the last few years so we will definitely try to play him (Saturday)," Porter said.

Porter said it took some convincing to get O'Neal to go along with the plan.

"He is very proud and obviously he has had a great resume and so he wants to be on the floor with his teammates and help his teammates out," Porter said. "And in that respect, we have to kind of convince him and tell him to look at the big picture as opposed to looking at the small part of this journey."

The Suns also played without forward Matt Barnes, who left the team after his fiancee gave birth to twins earlier this week. He also will not be with the team Saturday in Milwaukee.