Tar Heels in NBA: Little says career-high 30-point game is ‘just the beginning’; another big game for Barnes

By R.L. Bynum

It wasn’t a good night for the Portland Trail Blazers but it was a career night for Nassir Little in their 134–106 loss at Milwaukee.

After scoring only 15 points total in his first eight games, Little poured in 30 points in nearly 30 minutes for an impressive 26.9 game score. In addition, he had six rebounds, a steal and two blocks.

“This is a reminder to myself and everybody that I’m a good player and I’m just going to try to build off this game going forward,” said Little, who battled back into game shape after going through a difficult battle with COVID-19 late last year.

The 30 points easily topped his previous career-high of 12, which he scored in successive games Nov. 19, 2019, against New Orleans and Nov. 21, 2019, at Milwaukee during his rookie season. He blocked two shots twice in his rookie season: Dec. 6, 2019, against the Los Angeles Lakers and Jan. 20, 2020, against Golden State.

“I’ve been through a lot,” said Little, whose career-high at Carolina was 23 points Jan. 21, 2019, against Virginia Tech. “It feels good to have a game like this. Like I said, I just want to keep building off of it. This isn’t the end for me. It’s just the beginning.”

Little, starting his second consecutive game, had made 2 of 5 3-point attempts on the season before he made 5 of 7 against the Bucks.

“It’s just a matter of getting opportunities and the chance to kind of showcase that,” Little said. “I’ve had trouble with injuries and stuff like that. I stayed ready, stayed in the gym and it paid off tonight.”

Portland star Damian Lillard praised Little’s work ethic.

“Over the last year, Nas has been through a lot,” Lillard said. “Just to see him in the gym this summer when I would be in the facility, he was in the facility getting shots up. And when we was getting ready to come back, he was working.”

On a night when not much else went right, Portland coach Terry Stotts liked what he saw from Little.

“It was a bright spot tonight, for sure,” he said. “He shot the ball really well. Nas had a tough go the last few months and it was good to see him get out there and see the ball go in the basket.”

Little is listed as questionable for Tuesday’s game with a left knee sprain.

Elsewhere among UNC alums Monday, it was another solid game for Harrison Barnes.

In the Sacramento Kings’ 118–109 win at New Orleans, Barnes collected 24 points, eight rebounds, four assists and a 22.1 game score. It was his ninth game this season with at least 20 points, his seventh game with at least eight rebounds and his seventh game with a game score of at least 20.

In the Chicago Bulls’ 110–102 home win over the New York Knicks, Coby White contributed 13 points, four rebounds and six assists for the Bulls.

With the game tied at 100, White hit a clutch 3-pointer with 42.4 seconds left to give Chicago the lead for good. With 17.1 seconds left, White rebounded a missed 3-point attempt by former Duke player R.J. Barrett.

Reggie Bullock was 1 of 7 from the floor and had four points for the Knicks. Theo Pinson didn’t play for New York.

In Minnesota’s 100–98 loss at Cleveland, Ed Davis had eight points, five rebounds and a block.

In Oklahoma City’s 136–106 home loss to Houston, Justin Jackson scored 10 points on 3 of 6 shooting.

Cameron Johnson also scored 10 points, that coming in his Phoenix Suns’ 109–108 home win over Dallas.

Wayne Ellington’s Detroit Pistons learned of a positive/inconclusive coronavirus test Monday afternoon. Their game at Denver was reportedly postponed because of contact tracing.

How Tar Heels did Monday, what’s ahead

Cole Anthony, Orlando Magic guard
No game
Season statistics
— 21 games, 10.8 points, 4.4 rebounds, 3.7 assists, 36.2FG%, 31.9%3P, 85.7FT
Up next — Tuesday vs. Toronto, 7 p.m.; Friday vs. Chicago, 7 p.m.
Harrison Barnes, Sacramento Kings guard
118–109 win at New Orleans —
Started; 40 minutes, 24 points, 8–14 FG, 5–9 3FG, 3–3 FT, 8 rebounds, 4 assists, 1 steal, 1 block, 3 turnovers, +13, 22.1 game score
Season statistics — 20 games, 16.9 points, 6.3 rebounds, 3.5 assists, 50.4FG%, 43.5%3P, 86.0FT%
Up next — Wednesday vs. Boston, 10 p.m.; Saturday vs. Denver, 5 p.m., NBATV
Tony Bradley, Philadelphia Sixers center/forward
No game
Season statistics
— 8 games, 4.6 points, 6.3 rebounds, 0.8 of an assist, 50.0 FG%, 0–0 3FG, 3–5 FT
Up next —
Wednesday at Charlotte, 7 p.m., FSS; Thursday vs. Portland, 8 p.m.
Reggie Bullock, New York Knicks guard/forward
110–102 loss at Chicago —
Started; 22 minutes, 4 points, 1–7 FG, 0–4 3FG, 2–2 FT, 2 rebounds, 1 assist, 1 steal, -1, 1.4 game score
Season statistics —
17 games, 8.1 points, 3.8 rebounds, 1.2 assists, 37.8FG%, 34.2%3P, 75.0FT%
Up next — Wednesday at Chicago, 8 p.m.; Saturday vs. Portland, 1 p.m.
Ed Davis, Minnesota Timberwolves center/forward
100–98 loss at Cleveland — Started; 20 minutes, 8 points, 3–5 FG, 2–2 FT, 5 rebounds, 1 block, -7, 7.9 game score
Season statistics — 17 games, 2.4 points, 5.5 rebounds, 1.0 assist, 40.5G%, 0–0 3FG, 87.4FT%
Up next — Wednesday at San Antonio, 8:30 p.m.; Friday at Oklahoma City, 8 p.m.
Wayne Ellington, Detroit Pistons guard
Game at Denver postponed because of contact tracing on the Pistons team
Season statistics — 15 games, 12.5 points, 2.1 rebounds, 1.1 assists, 51.6FG%, 50.5 3P%, 72.7FT%
Up next — Tuesday at Utah, 10 p.m.; Friday at Phoenix, 9 p.m.
Danny Green, Philadelphia 76ers forward
No game
Season statistics — 21 games, 8.9 points, 3.7 rebounds, 2.2 assists, 38.2FG%, 36.2%3P 72.7FT%
Up next —
Wednesday at Charlotte, 7 p.m., FSS; Thursday vs. Portland, 8 p.m.
Justin Jackson, Oklahoma City Thunder forward
136–106 loss vs. Houston —
11 minutes, 10 points, 3–6 FG, 2–5 3FG, 2–2 FT, 2 rebounds, 1 assist, 0 +/-, 7.9 game score
Season statistics —
9 games, 5.4 points, 2.2 rebounds, 1.0 assist, 42.5FG%, 21.7%3P, 83.3FT%
Up next — Wednesday at Houston, 8 p.m.; Friday vs. Minnesota, 8 p.m.
Cameron Johnson, Phoenix Suns wing
109–108 win at Dallas —
Started; 35 minutes, 10 points, 3–8 FG, 2–6 3FG, 2–2 FT, 5 rebounds, 1 steal, +10, 7.7 game score
Season statistics —
19 games, 11.3 points, 3.5 rebounds, 1.4 assists, 43.9FG%, 36.7%3P, 86.4FT%
Up next — Wednesday at New Orleans, 9:30 p.m., ESPN; Friday vs. Detroit, 9 p.m.
Nassir Little, Portland Blazers forward/guard
134–106 loss at Milwaukee —
Started; 30 minutes, 30 points, 11–18 FG, 5–7 3FG, 3–3 FT, 6 rebounds, 1 assist, 1 steal, 2 blocks, 1 turnover, -10, 26.9 game score
Season statistics —
9 games, 5.0 points, 2.3 rebounds, 2 assists, 51.7%FG, 58.3%3P, 88.9FG%
Up next — Tuesday at Washington, 8 p.m.; Thursday at Philadelphia, 8 p.m.
Theo Pinson, New York Knicks guard/forward
110–102 loss at Chicago —
Didn’t play
Season statistics — 7 games, 2 points, 1–6 FG, 0–5 3FG, 1 rebound
Up next — Wednesday at Chicago, 8 p.m.; Saturday vs. Portland, 1 p.m.
Coby White, Chicago Bulls point guard
110–102 win vs. New York — Started; 38 minutes, 13 points, 5–12 FG, 1–4 3FG, 2–2 FT, 4 rebounds, 6 assists, 4 turnovers, +13, 8.0 game score
Season statistics —
19 games, 15.4 points, 4.8 rebounds, 5.7 assists, 40.7FG%, 36.1%3P, 86.7 FT
Up next — Wednesday vs. New York, 8 p.m.; Friday at Orlando, 7 p.m.

What is a game score? Here is an exclamation.

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