Robert Covington’s collection of animals as varied as his skills in the field

LOS ANGELES — There’s no doubt about all the ways Robert Covington finds to contribute, and let Tyronn Lue count them: “Taking charges, deflections, rebounds, blocked shots, his size, he can catch and go and put the ball on the floor…”

But what else does the new Clipper have – attributes on the ground or animals?

Covington has three dogs — and some big ones: two XXL American Bullies and a Cane Corso — as well as snakes named Max, Ellie and Eli. It has fish and geckos. And bearded dragons – “Have you ever watched the movie ‘Holes?’ These are the lizards that rush.

“I grew up watching Steve Irwin, he was my favorite person in the world, so I became interested in animals that way,” said Covington, the 31-year-old Illinois native who speaks softly and openly. and wears round-rimmed glasses. to research. “I have loved animals since I was a child.”

The 6-foot-7 forward with a 7-foot-2 wingspan is also a big fan of basketball.

Undrafted after playing four seasons at Tennessee State, Covington is in his ninth NBA season and playing for his fifth team – one of them being the Houston Rockets, the Clippers’ Sunday and Tuesday opponent in Texas.

All of those saves have developed Covington’s knack for finding ways to be useful where teams need him most – and who doesn’t need a tough defender and deflection artist?

Someone, as Terance Mann said, “does all the dirty work for us defensively”?

“We needed it, and we got it,” Mann said, impressed with how seamlessly Covington fit in with his new teammates. “He’s a great addition, we’re happy to have him. A great locker room guy too, another guy who wants to see everyone win.

It helped, Covington said, that this brutal uprooting — the fourth time he’s been traded mid-season — wasn’t as mentally taxing as the others, even though he misses his menagerie of ‘pets.

Covington said they were well taken care of by a manager in Portland, where he first bought a house.

“So it’s not like I have to move or anything or I’m on a deadline or anything,” said Covington, who the Clippers acquired with Norman Powell in a trade that has sent Eric Bledsoe, Justise Winslow, Keon Johnson and a 2025 second-round draft pick.

“I’m not on a schedule where I have to move everything. It’s not urgent. I don’t have to worry about my lease or the clauses I have in my rental agreement. The family is comfortable, the dogs are comfortable, so like I said, there’s not really a rush there. Just figuring out the next step for next year. In recent years, it’s like boom! I have to pick up and move, movers, and all that.

“No, I can take my time with all of this now.”

And he can focus his energies on the court, where in eight games with the Clippers, they outscored opponents by 37 points in 157 minutes of play — including 19 points in 20 minutes of play in the 105-102 win. above the Lakers.

RoCo — as he’s known throughout the NBA — was at his best on Friday, filling the stat sheet with 10 points, seven rebounds, two assists, three blocks and two steals.

He had consistent streaks such as the one that helped the Clippers build a 16-point second-quarter lead, when he followed up a steal and dunk with a block on Dwight Howard, a rebound and an out pass. quick. And, then, with a smooth 3-pointer over LeBron James that pushed the lead to 49-33.

Covington is also proving a reliable option at center when the Clippers get small, registering — at the suggestion of assistant coach Brian Shaw, Lue said — for 7-0 center Isaiah Hartenstein with 1:55 left and the Lakers lead, 100 -97.

In the final minutes, Covington thwarted Russell Westbrook twice, got his hands on some key rebounds and delivered passes to the right teammates. And he got involved in the most controversial play of the game when he intercepted James’ pass under the basket – both men out of bounds, but James first, who returned possession to the Clippers.

“So you’ve got two Nicos,” Lue said, referring to savvy and versatile Clippers veteran Nicolas Batum, who was effective in that position for much of the playoffs last year. “If you have that, that’s really, really good.”

Two Nicos, plus dogs, snakes, fish, geckos and dragons.

CLIPPERS (31-31) at ROCKETS (15-44)

When: Sunday, 4 p.m.

Or: Toyota Center, Houston

TV/Radio: Bally Sports SoCal / 570 AM

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