HOUSTON – James Harden had a most unusual stat line in Saturday’s 139-109 Houston win over the Timberwolves.

Harden had 32 points, 12 rebounds and eight assists. Nothing abnormal about that. But he finished the game with 11 turnovers – all of them coming in the first half.

Harden ultimately did the Wolves in Saturday. It was his prolific three-point shooting (6 of 11) that keyed multiple Houston runs in the second and third quarter that ultimately buried the Wolves. In the process, Harden collected his 20,000th career point.

But what happened to cause those 11 turnovers? Robert Covington happened. It was an illustration of the kind of defense Covington has played of late.

The Wolves have asked Covington to play the four spot a lot this season, meaning he has been matched up against taller players who don’t handle the ball as much as guards or wings.

But the Wolves had him on Harden for a good stretch of the first half. Covington finished with six steals.
“Attention to detail,” Covington said. “I’ve played with Harden, watched a lot of film. It was just knowing my defender and paying attention, watching film, tendencies and stuff.”

Of course, all that didn’t prevent Houston from demolishing the Wolves in the second half. Harden’s running mate Russell Westbrook had 30 points and the Wolves couldn’t take advantage of Covington’s early defense.

It underscored that Covington has one of the most valuable contracts in the NBA (two years, $25 million after this season), and is a player frequently mentioned in trade talks as it pertains to the Wolves. But he brushed those off Saturday.
“I’m not even focused on that,” Covington said. “My main focus is this team and what I do every day. I’m not going to get caught up in rumors or hype or whatnot. I’m a Minnesota Timberwolf and that’s all my focus is.”

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