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Shaq, Suns look to close out road trip on positive note

Jan 26, 2009 - 3:27 PM Phoenix (24-18) at Washington (9-34) 7:00 p.m. EST

WASHINGTON (Ticker) -- Shaquille O'Neal is done taking the second game of back-to-backs off, and the Washington Wizards are the first victims of the new endurance plan.

O'Neal will look to lead the Phoenix Suns to close out their six-game road trip with a 3-3 mark when they visit the Wizards on Monday.

Phoenix head coach Terry Porter told the Arizona Republic on Sunday that O'Neal will not get a day off when the team plays back-to-back games the rest of the season.

The decision came after the Suns have lost five of seven - including an embarrassing 98-76 loss to Charlotte on Friday. Phoenix had won all eight meetings with the Bobcats prior to that setback.

The Suns had been trying to preserve O'Neal, who turns 37 in March, by holding him out of the second game of back-to-back contests.

O'Neal, who is averaging 17.9 points and 9.0 rebounds, led Phoenix to a win at Atlanta on Sunday, collecting 19 points and 11 rebounds in a 104-99 victory. Amare Stoudemire added 23 points and Steve Nash finished with 14 and 13 assists.

Washington will be returning home after a 1-3 road trip which included a 100-87 loss at Portland on Saturday. Caron Butler scored 31 points and grabbed 10 rebounds but committed nine turnovers for the Wizards.