Royce O’Neale doesn’t hit a shot or score in Nets’ return

CHICAGO — Royce O’Neale came back from a non-COVID illness Wednesday night, but his shooting touch was still a little sickly.

The veteran came in shooting .413 from 3-point range, but went a scoreless 0-for-9 from the floor and 0-for-8 from behind the arc in the Nets’ 121-112 loss to the Bulls.

“Of course when you feel sick and you’re out and don’t play [it has an impact],” O’Neale told The Post. “But these guys don’t have confidence in me to keep shooting, and that’s what I’m going to do. I mean, never have I ever had a game like this. But I learned from it. Every game is a learning experience. And you know, this is great for myself and going forward.”

Jacque Vaughn, who at one point earlier in the season was handing O’Neale the second-most minutes in the league, professed similar sentiments.

“I hope that he realized that I have extreme amount of confidence in him to play him 35 minutes,” Vaughn said. “He missed his first shot, missed his second shot and we’re going to continue to have confidence in him and I love coaching Royce and he’ll continue to be out there. And he’ll get those shots and he’ll make them.”

Royce O'Neale
Royce O’Neale
NBAE via Getty Images

In his first comments after being named Eastern Conference Coach of the Month on Tuesday — the first such honor of his career — Vaughn deflected it as a team honor. And he did it in typical Vaughn fashion, half humble and half humorous.

“I got a great text from a friend of mine that I won’t say who it is, but he said ‘What’s so special about a turtle sitting on top of a fence post? He didn’t get there on his own.’ ” Vaughn said before Wednesday’s game.

“So I’m very smart to know that that award is the performance team, it’s the coaching staff, it is at the end of the day, it’s the players. So we had a great month as a team, because of those guys came out and they balled out and they hooped. So I’m just a turtle; that’s it.”

TJ Warren was forced out of the game in the fourth quarter.

“Yeah, you got a rib contusion so they’ll take a look at him. I got no update more than that. But that illegal screen kind of produced that,” said Vaughn, who was unsure if the veteran would need any imaging.

“I don’t know. They just told me before I walked out and when he had checked out the game, so I’ll meet with those guys. Not sure about scans, though.”