Houston Rockets assignee Robert Covington has been having himself quite the month of February with the Rio Grande Valley Vipers. The 6-foot-8 forward out of Tennessee State has scored 30 or more points in three of the five games he has appeared in. He has recorded four double-doubles, three of which came in wins. He has knocked down 22 threes in just 55 attempts and is shooting a season-best 48 percent from the field. Then there's the All-Star game, which took place in New Orleans last weekend: In 20 minutes of action, he scored a D-League record 33 points and for his efforts, he took home MVP honors.
To top all that off, he had his best individual performance of the season last night when the Vipers hosted the Tulsa 66ers for the second time in two days. In the first matchup, the 66ers couldn't do anything to stop Covington and he wound up scoring 30 points in just over a half's worth of minutes. Last night, nothing much changed and he poured in a career-high 45 points. He did so quite efficiently, too, shooting 16-for-30 from the field and 10-for-17 from three. To go along with his scoring, he put up 11 rebounds, three steals and one block. But it was the 66ers who go the last laugh, as they went on to win by a final score of 142-125.
Offensively, the Vipers were their usual selves. They shot 44.3 percent from the field and connected on 24 threes, which tends to be a recipe for success for them. However, they were a mess defensively. Four members of the 66ers scored 20 or more points and an additional three more players reached double figures. As a team, they shot 59.8 percent from the field and attempted a whopping number of free throws (37).
The Vipers were very much alive in the first two quarters of this game. In fact, heading into half-time, they held a one-point lead, thanks in large part to Covington's 20 points. They even went toe-to-toe with the 66ers in the third, scoring 30 points to their 37. Yet in the final frame, they fell apart, connecting on just 34.8 percent of their shots and sending the 66ers to the charity stripe far too often.
Nevertheless, the Rockets must be happy with how their rookie is performing.
Covington has been called-up a few times by the Rockets this season, but has appeared in only five games. Seeing as the NBA's regular season is coming to a close, it's unlikely that he'll see much game time with the Rockets before the Playoffs. However, he has proven himself to be a valuable asset for them over the last few months and one that can easily fit in their run-and-gun system.