Oladipo shines in Houston debut, LaVine lifts Bulls over Rockets
Five days removed from the blockbuster deal that sent James Harden to the Brooklyn Nets, the Houston Rockets got to see their new star Victor Oladipo in action. Oladipo played just over 32 minutes, posting 32 points, 9 assists, 5 rebounds and 2 steals. Oladipo was efficient with his scoring too, shooting 13-23 (56.5%) from the field and 4-9 (44.4%) from behind the arc. The two-time All-Star guard did have 7 turnovers, but that number will likely go down as Oladipo gets adjusted to his new teammates.
The game also featured a big performance from Rockets starting center Christian Wood, who scored 30 points on 11-16 (68.8%) shooting and grabbed 9 boards in 30 minutes on the floor. Wood is having a breakout season in Houston and is a candidate for the Most Improved Player award, as his per game averages are up from 13.3 points and 6.3 rebounds last year to 23.2 points and 10.9 rebounds to start this season.
It remains to be seen when John Wall and Oladipo will take the court together, as Wall is currently nursing a knee injury; he has missed three-straight games. Despite losing a former MVP and one of the most offensively skilled players in the league, the Rockets have to be feeling pretty good about their future with Oladipo, Wall and Wood, assuming they all can stay healthy.
Ultimately, the Rockets could not pull out the W in Chicago and have now lost two-straight. After falling to Chicago, Houston sits at 4-8 on the season and 14th in the Western Conference.
Zach LaVine was dominant for the Bulls in the win, scoring 33 points on 16 shots and also chipping in 7 assists, 4 rebounds, 2 steals and 1 block.
LaVine recently became the first Bulls player with four consecutive 30-point games while shooting 50% (or better) from the floor since Michael Jordan had a five-game streak in Nov. 1996. Last season, LaVine became the Bulls' highest scorer since MJ as well. In his seventh year in the league, LaVine is averaging career-bests across the board with 26.9 points, 5.2 assists and 4.8 rebounds per game. The personal statistics don’t matter much to LaVine though, who has his sights set on something bigger.
In an interview last year with our own Alex Kennedy, LaVine learned that he was Chicago's top scorer since Jordan and had this to say: "I appreciate you telling me that stat! That’s something that I didn’t even realize until you just told me! (laughs) I knew D-Rose averaged 25.0 points when he had his MVP season. I guess I’m not doing too bad! (laughs) It’s cool, but you won’t be recognized as great or get put where you want to be put for individual things – you need to have that team success. That’s what I’m looking forward to. I’m looking forward to helping the Bulls get back to where we’re supposed to be."
His recent play has the Bulls riding a mini two-game winning streak into Friday's matchup against the Charlotte Hornets at 7 p.m. ET. Chicago currently sits in the 11th seed in the Eastern Conference.
Houston takes the court next on Wednesday vs. the Phoenix Suns at 9:30 p.m. ET.