Against all odds, Robert Covington led the Philadelphia 76ers to a win over the Portland Trail Blazers on Friday night at home.
In a game where the Philadelphia 76ers have trailed for a majority of the contest, and Joel Embiid is ruled out due to a knee contusion for most of the fourth quarter, most would write the team off immediately, and perhaps rightfully so.
Embiid has anchored the team on both ends of the floor, and especially in late-game situations, he has been a leading force of their defense. His four blocks prior to him being pulled Friday night against the Portland Trail Blazers indicated that he would be important down the stretch as well.
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The Sixers seemed to be down to a point where they could not come back. But fear not, Robert Covington is here.
Covington has not had the best season so far. He started the year in a huge shooting slump that was really, really ugly, shooting below 25 percent from the 3-point line in his first 14 games.
So far this season he has averaged 10.3 points, 5.7 rebounds, and 1.6 assists per game on 36.5 percent shooting and just 29.7 percent shooting from beyond the arc.
Friday night was Covington’s night, though. He scored 22 points, pulled in 6 rebounds, and had a steal and a block. He shot 47 percent from the field and 41.7 percent from beyond the arc, making five 3-pointers. He limited himself to just two turnovers on a night where the Sixers seemed to not be able to stop turning it over.
But above all of his great play on Friday that really propelled the Sixers forward to their 8th win in 10 games, and sixth straight at home, Covington came up with a big shot when the team needed it most.
With 4.5 seconds remaining, Covington took a risky contested 3-point shot to put the Sixers ahead by one. He didn’t just tie the game, he put the Sixers ahead to be in a position to win it all.
Notably, Brett Brown didn’t call a timeout to draw up a play for his offense, similarly to the approach the team took in their buzzer-beater win against the New York Knicks. That seems to be working for them. Write that down, Brett.
The Trail Blazers would end up calling a timeout to draw up a play that the Sixers defense easy dismissed, essentially winning the game off of Covington’s shot.
This wasn’t the first big moment Covington has had for the season. He hit a buzzer beater at home to give the Sixers a 93-91 win over the Minnesota Timberwolves after being booed for the entire game prior by the fans. It was an exciting inbound lob pass for Covington at the rim as he kissed the ball off the glass and fell to the paint, watching the ball fall through the net.
They weren’t booing after that, and they aren’t booing now.
Covington may not have consistency completely down as an NBA player yet — actually, far from it, we’ve seen him go on streaks and slumps like it’s his job — but he’s good for some really clutch play. There’s going to be a place for him in Philly for years to come.