Victor Oladipo set to make debut for Rockets vs. Bulls

NBA

Newly acquired Victor Oladipo is eager to make his Houston Rockets debut Monday as the team concludes a three-game road trip with a visit to the Chicago Bulls.

Part of a blockbuster trade last week that sent former Rockets star James Harden to Brooklyn and also involved Cleveland and Indiana, Oladipo joined Houston before Saturday’s game at San Antonio but could not be activated in time.

“My first impression has been amazing,” Oladipo said. “Guys have been welcoming. … I’m blessed and fortunate to be here. My goal for this season is to win, and win and win some more. Exhaust my potential here.”

Oladipo, a two-time All-Star guard, averaged 20.0 points, 5.7 rebounds and 4.2 assists in nine games for the Pacers this season. He missed more than a year with a right knee injury before returning in January 2020 to help Indiana clinch a playoff berth.

Oladipo already has faced Chicago at the United Center once this season as a member of the Pacers. He scored 22 points in 25 minutes while going 5-for-5 from beyond the arc on Dec. 26.

Because of various injuries and trade processing protocol, the Rockets dressed just eight players in Saturday’s 103-91 loss to the Spurs. Houston coach Stephen Silas said DeMarcus Cousins and Eric Gordon are expected to return to the lineup against the Bulls, but John Wall is out with knee soreness.

As the Rockets establish a new rotation and culture, Oladipo isn’t the only one itching to get going.

“Really, just going through this trade a couple days ago and adding players and continuing to know that, ‘OK, we’re here,'” said rookie Mason Jones, who had 24 points Saturday in his first career start.

“It means a lot and you know, I just to want to continue to really just show and the team really needs to show and just get better every day. Just continue to work hard, continue to come in every day with the right mentality.”

The Bulls snapped a four-game losing streak Sunday with a 117-101 road victory against the Dallas Mavericks. While starters Lauri Markkanen (29 points, 10 rebounds) and Zach LaVine (10 points, 10 assists) both registered double-doubles, Chicago benefited from a bevy of bench scoring.

Garrett Temple led the way for the reserves, scoring 17 of his season-best 21 points in the first half. The Bulls got 61 points from their bench and regrouped from Friday’s overtime loss at Oklahoma City in which they squandered a 10-point lead with 1:47 to play.

“This is a group that’s really working to get better as a team,” Bulls coach Billy Donovan said. “I really appreciate every day working with them. Obviously, there have been some painful moments this year. But it speaks to their character that coming out of that (Friday) game, they didn’t hang their head.”

Monday marks Chicago’s first home game since a 118-108 win against Dallas on Jan. 3. The Bulls are set to play six of their next eight at United Center.

–Field Level Media

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