Grading Robert Covington’s Houston Rockets debut against the Lakers

Houston Rockets Robert Covington (Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images)
Houston Rockets Robert Covington (Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images) /

Robert Covington made quite a splash for the Houston Rockets against a team that’s considered the favorite to win the NBA championship, the Lakers.

By all accounts according to the TNT broadcasters calling the game, the Houston Rockets were supposed to be dominated by the gigantic Los Angeles Lakers on Thursday night. When all was said and done, though, Russell Westbrook had a dominant offensive performance while Robert Covington had a dominant defensive performance.

It was as impactful of a debut as the Rockets could have hoped for, as Robert Covington had a superb game on both ends of the floor. While P.J. Tucker officially got the start at center, Covington provided 30 minutes to Tucker’s 31.

We’ve been shouting from the rooftops that Tucker’s minutes need to be reduced as soon as possible, so the fact that RoCo can relieve some of the pressure off of the 34-year-old makes his arrival even more important.

Robert Covington’s Defense

While we recently talked about how Covington’s defense has regressed while on the Minnesota Timberwolves, he didn’t show any signs of that against Los Angeles. Covington was all over the floor in his 30 minutes — pulling down six defensive rebounds, nabbing two steals and tallying a team-high two blocks.

Covington showed the perimeter footwork that previously earned him an All-NBA Defensive Team selection against a deep Lakers squad while also holding his own on the glass with eight total rebounds, which tied Russ for most on the team.

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While the whole world seemed to believe Anthony Davis was going to go off for 60 against the 6-7 and under lineup that Mike D’Antoni was rolling out, RoCo played a key role in a swarming defense that collapsed as a unit upon entry passes. This play alone showed a big thing the Rockets had been missing all season:

This is why you trade for Robert Covington.

He is in position to both contest the 3-pointer one pass away and still help on the post-up. Blocks Anthony Davis. Credit P.J. Tucker as well from forcing him to fade away from the rim. #Rockets

— Alykhan Bijani (@Rockets_Insider) February 7, 2020

Robert Covington’s Offense

As well as RoCo played on the defensive end, he played just as well on offense. Shooting 4-for-7 from 3-point range and 5-of-9 overall, it was as if Covington was meant to be a Houston Rocket throughout his whole career.

Even more impressive than his 14 points in a bench role on his season debut were the clutch shots he made at the Staples Center.

New acquisition Robert Covington buries two clutch triples late in the @HoustonRockets road win! #OneMission

— NBA (@NBA) February 7, 2020

Keep in mind, this performance was on the road in his first game with the Rockets since the 2013-14 season, against the number one team in the Western Conference in their building. Robert showed right away that he has ice in his veins and gave hope to Rockets fans everywhere that small ball might just be a winning formula.

In his debut, Robert Covington gets an A+ for what he brought to the floor on both ends of the court.

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If he can keep up this kind of play, the Rockets might just accomplish their #OneMission this season after all.