PHILADELPHIA–The Philadelphia 76ers were hit with some foul trouble early in Saturday’s home matinee with the Phoenix Suns. Tobias Harris was hit with two fouls early and Kelly Oubre Jr. got caught with some foul issues.
Covington went 0-for-3 from the floor in the 112-100 win over the Suns, but he did have four rebounds, two steals, and a block while playing 12 minutes after halftime and playing solid defense on Suns star Kevin Durant.
“Just probably based off yesterday’s (Friday) live action and then we got into some quick foul trouble with both our wings and KD was out there,” Nurse of his decision to turn to Covington. “I thought that I needed another guy with some size to battle him.”
Covington did a lot of things to really bother Durant. The Phoenix superstar still had 31 points on 9-for-20 shooting, but in the fourth quarter, he shot just 1-for-4 as Covington bothered him a bit.
“I always like the first couple things, is do you have the ability and do you want to do it? And I think he’s got that,” said Nurse. “He’s got some ability, athletically, size, strength, pretty good off-the-ball stuff, and then he’s trying really hard. That goes a long way at that end of the floor so that’s good to see, and he seems confident, I don’t know if he made many shots but at least he stepped into them like he was going to which is a good start.”
The Sixers needed Covington’s defensive ability off the bench to give them a boost. Especially, with the foul trouble Harris and Oubre Jr. got into. He gave the team a big lift in both the early going and in the fourth.
“He did a great job rebounding and defensively,” Joel Embiid said of RoCo. “Obviously, his shot wasn’t there, but he did the little things just at a high level. I thought he did a good job on KD and then, like I said, rebounding. On offense, he’s still finding his way with the spacing, but I’m sure as the game goes, he’s gonna find a way. He did pretty good.”
Covington played 1:!5 of garbage time in Thursday’s win over the Toronto Raptors, but to play 18 minutes of real time on Saturday proved to be a delight for him.
“It felt good,” he smiled. “I’m still learning the offensive side of things and still learning the terminology on defense, but just my overall activity and being out there with them guys, it was special. To put it back on this jersey and actually play some real minutes. So for me, it was like a very surreal moment.”