Tar Heels in NBA: 6 assists from Anthony in debut; Barnes, Johnson have big games

By R.L. Bynum

It was another successful debut for point guard Cole Anthony while Harrison Barnes and Cameron Johnson had big games to lead victories in Wednesday night NBA openers.

Nearly 14 months after Anthony scored 34 points for Carolina against Notre Dame in his first college game, he didn’t put up big numbers. But he had his moments in the Orlando Magic’s 113–107 win over the Miami Heat.

Anthony, who Orlando picked in the first round of the NBA draft as the 15th overall pick, came off the bench to collect six points, six assists and two steals in 19 minutes. His six assists in his rookie debut with the Magic are behind only Penny Hardaway’s eight in 1993 and Elfrid Payton’s seven in 2014.

Anthony is playing behind starter Markelle Fultz, who had 15 points and four assists.

Anthony can do something in the NBA he could never do at Carolina: wear the same No. 50 that his dad Greg wore with the Knicks. That because that number is retired at Carolina to honor Tyler Hansbrough.

Anthony hit a jumper off a screen from the top of the key for his first NBA points early in the second quarter.

Later, he got a steal that led to a nice pass to Aaron Gordon for an alley-oop dunk.

During the four-game exhibition season, Anthony averaged a rookie-high 13.8 points per game and tied Charlotte Hornets guard LaMelo Ball for the best assist average among rookies at 3.8.

Next, Anthony has two road games this weekend against Washington.

Barnes scores 21, has key steal in Kings victory

Barnes scored 21 points with nine rebounds, five assists and two steals in the Sacramento Kings’ 124–122 overtime victory over the favored Denver Nuggets in the Kings’ first opening-night win since 2016.

Barnes’ long rebound and layup with 6.5 seconds left tied the game at 122. He then knocked the ball away from Nikola Jolic with 2.6 seconds left and had his dunk attempt blocked. But Buddy Hield tipped in Barnes’ miss at the buzzer to give Sacramento the victory.

By game score, Barnes had the best game of any Tar Heel on Wednesday at 20.1.

Johnson nets 15 points in Suns victory

Johnson came off the bench to score 15 points and pull down five rebounds as the Phoenix Suns beat the Dallas Mavericks 106–102. He was able to score several times off the dribble when defenders closed out on him at the 3-point line, where he made 1 of 3 attempts.

“It’s just a matter of taking what they give,” Johnson said. “Just learning how to pick and choose spots and where to take advantage of something that I’ve been doing, along with working on actually executing drives and pull-ups. I feel more comfortable going into the season.”

Tough opener for Bulls, White

Coby White started in the Chicago Bulls’ opener against the Atlanta Hawks after coming off the bench in all but one game last season. It didn’t go well for either White or the Bulls in a 124–104 loss. White had nine points and seven assists in 30 minutes.

Four Heels back with same team, seven with new teams

Of the 12 former Carolina players in the NBA, White, Barnes, Johnson and Nassir Little of the Portland Trail Blazers are the only four who are back with the same team.

Seven are with new teams:

  • Tony Bradley is with the Philadelphia 76ers after playing his first three seasons with the Utah Jazz.
  • Reggie Bullock is with the New York Knicks after four seasons as a Detroit Piston.
  • Ed Davis is with the Minnesota Timberwolves, his fourth team in as many seasons, after playing with the Utah Jazz last season.
  • The Detroit Pistons are Wayne Ellington’s third team in as many seasons after he played with the New York Knicks last season.
  • After winning NBA titles two seasons ago with the Toronto Raptors and last season with the Los Angeles Lakers, the 76ers are Danny Green’s fourth team in as many seasons.
  • Justin Jackson is with the Oklahoma City Thunder for his third team in three seasons after playing for the Dallas Mavericks last season.
  • Theo Pinson has a two-way contract with the Knicks after playing his first two seasons with the Brooklyn Nets.

Bullock played 26 minutes in the Knicks 121–107 loss to the Pacers, collecting 11 points, two rebounds, two assists and a steal. Pinson played 55 seconds.

Little was announced with the rest of the Trail Blazers before their home opener but was inactive for the game and not in uniform. The team said little about his situation other than to say he was out for “health and safety protocols.”

The 76ers beat the Washington Wizards 113–107 but Green only had two points and two assists in 18 minutes. Bradley, who is playing behind Joel Embiid and Dwight Howard, didn’t play.

Also not playing in their teams’ openers Wednesday were Ellington and Davis.

How did Tar Heels do and when do they play next?

PlayerPosition, team, game results
Cole AnthonyGuard, Orlando Magic
Wed. vs Heat113–107 win; didn’t start; 19 MP 6P 6A 2R, 3TO 2S +3 7.1GS
Sat. at Wizards7 p.m.
Sun. at Wizards7 p.m.
Harrison BarnesGuard, Sacramento Kings
Wed. at Nuggets124–122 OT win; started; 42M 21P 9R 5A 2S +3 20.1GS
Sat. vs. Suns10 p.m.
Sun. vs. Suns9 p.m.
Tony BradleyCenter/forward, Philadephia 76ers
Wed. vs. Wizards113–107 win; didn’t play
Sat. at Knicks7:30 p.m., NBATV
Sun. at Cavaliers7:30 p.m.
Reggie BullockGuard/forward, New York Knicks
Wed. at Pacers121–107 loss; started; 26MP 11P 1R 2A 1S -16 7.1GS
Sat. vs. Sixers7:30 p.m., NBATV
Sun. vs. Bucks7:30 p.m.
Ed DavisCenter/forward, Minnesota Timberwolves
Wed. vs. Pistons111–101 win; didn’t play
Sat. at Jazz9 p.m.
Sun. at Lakers10 p.m.
Wayne EllingtonGuard, Detroit Pistons
Wed. at Wolves111–101 loss; didn’t play
Sat. vs. Cavaliers7 p.m.
Mon. at Hawks7:30 p.m.
Danny GreenGuard, Philadelphia 76ers
Wed. vs. Wizards113–107 win; started; 18MP 2P 0R 2A 2S 1TO -27 0.2GS
Sat. at Knicks7:30 p.m., NBATV
Sun. at Cavaliers7:30 p.m.
Justin JacksonForward, Oklahoma City Thunder
Wed. at RocketsGame postponed
Sat. at Hornets7 p.m., Fox Sports Southeast
Mon. vs.Jazz8 p.m.
Cameron JohnsonForward, Phoenix Suns
Wed. at Mavericks106–102 win; didn’t start; 26MP 15P 5R 1A 1S +9 13.1GS
Sat. at Kings10 p.m., NBATV
Sun. at Kings9 p.m.
Nassir LittleForward/guard, Portland Trail Blazers
Wed. vs. JazzInactive for opener, team said for “health and safety protocols”
Sat. vs. Rockets10 p.m., NBATV
Monday at Lakers10 p.m., NBATV
Theo PinsonGuard/forward, New York Knicks
Wed. at Pacers121–107 loss; didn’t play
Sat. vs. Sixers7:30 p.m., NBATV
Sun. vs. Bucks7:30 p.m.
Coby WhitePoint guard, Chicago Bulls
Wed. vs. Hawks124–104 loss; started; 30MP 9P 2R 7A 1S 3TO -13 4.8GS
Sat. vs. Pacers8 p.m.
Sun. vs. Warriors8 p.m.
Statistics keyMP=minutes played; P=points; A=assists; R=rebounds, S=steals; TO=turnovers; GS=game score

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