The boos and jeers aren’t shaking Robert Covington’s confidence, nor are they impacting Brett Brown’s willingness to play him.
Covington has struggled this season to find his shot and that continued for most of Monday’s win against the Heat. He started off 0 for 5 from the field (0 for 3 from three) before making his first shot, a layup with 3:22 remaining in the second quarter. All four of his first-half points came off layups, as he went 2 for 9 from the floor in under 15 minutes.
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Covington went scoreless in the third and the crowd was vocal on both of his shot attempts. Still, his teammates kept looking for him on offense. Covington put the Sixers up by two with 3:54 to play on a layup from Jerryd Bayless.
Less than a minute later, he stole the ball from Goran Dragic and drained a key three from Gerald Henderson to give the Sixers a five-point lead. Covington finished the game with nine points (4 for 13 from the field, 1 for 5 from three).
Covington approaches each game with a “shooters shoot” mentality, one that has been reiterated to him by Brown. The head coach has said he does not intend to take Covington out of the starting lineup.
“Coach has believed in me since I’ve been here,” Covington said. “No matter what, he’s told me keep shooting. I’m never going to stop playing. No matter what, I’m not going to hang my head just because I’m not making shots. I’m going to go down and make a play on the defensive end to allow us to get more opportunities on the offensive end.”
Instead of harping on the overall low shooting percentage, Brown focused on Covington’s nine rebounds and three steals. Then there are the hustle stats that don’t appear in the final box score.
Covington ranks fifth among all NBA forwards with 3.4 deflections per game. He leads the Sixers with 1.86 steals (sixth among all small forwards in the league) and is tied for third on the team with 4.9 rebounds per game.
“All of us can only imagine where the last, what, three, four games where every shot goes up and there's oohs and aahs, and he misses and he misses and there's groans and boos,” Brown said. “To stay with him, to encourage him, it was easy for me because he guards. Then, for him to guard and make that big shot and make that big layup — his last two shots were makes — I think is great reward for him.”
Covington isn’t opposed to driving the basket. He said the layups helped him gain a rhythm. He also works on shooting drills after practice in which he alternates outside and inside shots.
Covington knows he needs to improve his 26.2 field goal percentage (24.4 percent from three). At the same time, he is dedicated to clamping down on the other end to help the Sixers.
“I’ve really focused on just becoming that defender that when crunch time comes, I’ll be the guy that locks down that primary player,” he said.