Tar Heels in NBA: Anthony caps frustrating rookie season with huge game; six Heels in playoffs

By R.L. Bynum

Half of the 12 Tar Heels in the NBA are going to the playoffs but one who isn’t, Orlando’s Cole Anthony, ended his rookie season with a scoring flurry.

Anthony scored 23 of his season-high 37 points in the first half Sunday night. Even with Philadelphia team resting a few regulars, though, including Danny Green, it wasn’t enough as the Sixers, the No. 1 seed in the Eastern Conference, won 128–117 and the Magic finished the season with seven consecutive defeats.

After the game, Anthony was focused more on the loss and what he could have done better than his point total.

“I ain’t gonna lie; I was terrible,” said Anthony who had two assists and six turnovers. “That 37’s cool. It looks cool. But we’ve got to be better. We lost the game; I had six turnovers. My assist numbers were down. I’ve got to be better than that. If I want to have any chance to be a key guy on this team, I gotta be better. So, I’ll grind this whole summer and come back a new man next year.”

It was the fifth-highest scoring game by a rookie in Magic franchise history. He capped the night with his third 3-pointer in the final minute.

After scoring 11 points in 21 minutes in Orlando’s Friday loss to the Sixers, Anthony had it going Sunday night, with season-highs of 38 minutes, 25 shots and 14 free throws and was perfect at the line.

It was his 17th time he’s made all of his free-throw attempts this season but his previous high in those games was six tries, which he did twice. He also made all 14 free-throw attempts for Carolina in a 26-point game in a loss Feb. 1, 2020, to Boston College.

That was the most points for Anthony since he scored 34 for UNC in his college debut on Nov. 6, 2019, at home against Notre Dame and bettered his best previous NBA game total of 26 points against Memphis on May 1.

Anthony’s 21.9 game score was also a season-high, bettering the 21.7 he put up in that Memphis game.

“All rookie seasons have some ups and downs,” said Anthony, who missed 25 games with a rib injury. “But I think, overall, pretty, pretty solid year. I learned a lot. I’m a better player than I was at the beginning of the season. I’m ready this offseason to put in the real work to get better.”

After Green scored eight points in 21 minutes in the Sixers’ 122–97 Friday win over the Magic, he sat out Sunday’s game to give him more time to recover from a hip injury.

Six of the 12 Tar Heels in the NBA are on playoff teams but two of those — Milwaukee’s Justin Jackson and New York’s Theo Pinson — won’t get meaningful playing time.

Of the other four, the Knicks’ Reggie Bullock and Green are the only starters. Other Tar Heels in the playoffs are Phoenix’s Cameron Johnson, who hasn’t played since May 5 while recovering from a right wrist injury, and Portland’s Nassir Little.

Philadelphia will face the No. 8 seed in the first round, which will be either Indiana, Charlotte, Boston or Washington.

New York is the No. 4 Eastern seed and will meet No. 5 Atlanta in the first round.

Phoenix is the No. 2 Western Conference seed and will meet the No. 7 seed in the first round, which will be the winner of the Los Angeles Lakers-Golden State Warriors game on Wednesday night.

Portland is the No. 6 Western seed and faces No. 3-seed Denver in the first round.

Bullock finished the regular season with solid games, scoring 17 points with five 3-pointers Saturday in a 118–109 victory over Charlotte and 16 points and four 3-pointers in Sunday’s 96–92 win over Boston.

In the 15th game after Milwaukee signed Justin Jackson to a two-way contract April 21, he finally made his Bucks debut in their 118–112 win Sunday over Chicago. In his first action since playing 17 minutes for Oklahoma City against Portland on April 3, Jackson collected nine points, two 3-pointers and six rebounds in 33 minutes.

The game helped Coby White finish his second NBA season on a high note after the Bulls fell short of making the playoffs. After scoring only three points in 34 minutes during Chicago’s 105–91 Saturday loss to Brooklyn, White had 19 points, four 3-pointers, five rebounds and five assists for a 14.2 game score in Sunday’s victory.

Oklahoma City ended a frustrating season and a nine-game losing streak with a 117–112 victory over the Los Angeles Clippers, who were resting a few players. Tony Bradley, traded to the Thunder midseason by Philadelphia, had eight points and seven rebounds in the victory.

It was a frustrating end of the season for Sacramento’s Harrison Barnes, who missed the Kings’ last 11 games while battling a groin injury. He couldn’t help the Kings avoid breaking a league record when they missed the playoffs for a 15th consecutive seasons.

Barnes’ 16.1-point scoring average was his highest since putting up a 17.7 average in 2018–19 for Dallas.

The Kings honored Barnes on Sunday with an award for his leadership on and off the court.

It was also a disappointing end to the season for Detroit’s Wayne Ellington, who missed the last four games of the season battling a groin injury and missed eight of the last 10. Despite playing only 46 games, his 116 3-pointers were his most since collecting 138 in 53 games in the 2018–19 season playing for Miami and Detroit.

How Tar Heels did on final weekend, what’s next

Cole Anthony, Orlando Magic guard
Friday loss at Philadelphia — Started; 21 minutes, 11 points, 4–9 FG, 2–2 FT, 1–3 3FG, 5 rebounds, 3 assists, 1 steal, 5 turnovers, -19, 3.9 game score
128–117 Sunday loss at Philadelphia — Started; 38 minutes, 37 minutes, 10–25 FG, 3–9 3FG, 14–14 FT, 8 rebounds, 2 assists, 1 steal, 6 turnovers, -17, 21.9 game score
Season statistics
— 47 games, 12.9 points, 4.7 rebounds, 4.1 assists, 39.7FG%, 33.7%3P, 83.2FT
Up next — Season over
Harrison Barnes, Sacramento Kings guard
107–106 Friday loss at Memphis and 121–99 Sunday loss vs. Utah —
Missed both games and the last 11 with a groin injury
Season statistics — 58 games, 16.1 points, 6.6 rebounds, 3.5 assists, 49.7FG%, 39.1%3P, 83.0FT%
Up next — Season over
Tony Bradley, Oklahoma City Thunder center/forward
109–93 Friday loss vs. Utah —
18 minutes, 4 points, 1–3 FG, 2–2 FT, 4 rebounds, 3 assists, 1 turnovers, -12, 4.2 game score
117–112 Sunday win vs. Los Angeles Clippers — 14 minutes, 8 points, 4–5 FG, 7 rebounds, 1 assist, +8, 11.1 game score
Season statistics — 42 games, 7.1 points, 5.7 rebounds, 0.9 of an assist, 66.5 FG%, 0–2 3FG, 69.1FT%
Up next —
Season over
Reggie Bullock, New York Knicks guard/forward
118–109 win
Saturday vs. Charlotte — Started; 40 minutes, 17 points, 6–12 FG, 5–9 3FG, 6 rebounds, +14, 12.8 game score
96–92 Sunday win vs. Boston — Started; 34 minutes 16 points, 6–9 FG, 4–7 3FG, 3 rebounds, 2 assists, 1 steal, w block, +6
Season statistics —
63 games, 10.7 points, 3.4 rebounds, 1.5 assists, 43.7FG%, 40.3%3P, 90.9FT%
Up next — No. 4 Eastern Conference seed; will face No. 6 Miami in the first round with Game 1 Sunday
Ed Davis, Minnesota Timberwolves center/forward
123–108 loss Saturday vs. Boston and 136–121 Sunday win vs. Dallas — Didn’t play in either game didn’t play in the last four games of the season
Season statistics — 23 games, 2.1 points, 5.0 rebounds, 0.9 of an assist, 43.2FG%, 0–0 3FG, 83.3FT%
Up next — Season over
Wayne Ellington, Detroit Pistons guard
104–91 Friday loss vs. Denver and Sunday vs. Miami — Didn’t play in either game and missed the last four games of the season with a groin injury
Season statistics — 46 games, 9.6 points, 1.8 rebounds, 1.5 assists, 44.1FG%, 42.2 3P%, 80.0FT%
Up next — Season over
Danny Green, Philadelphia 76ers forward
Friday win vs. Orlando — Started; 21 minutes, 8 points, 2–5 FG, 2–4 3FG, 2 rebounds, 2 assists, 1 block, 1 turnover, +16, 6.2 game score
Sunday vs. Orlando — Missed game so that he could recover from a hip injury
Season statistics — 69 games, 9.5 points, 3.8 rebounds, 1.7 assists, 41.2FG%, 40.5%3P, 77.5FT%
Up next —
No. 1 Eastern Conference seed; will play face the No. 8 seed, the winner of Thursday’s Indiana-Washington game, with Game 1 on Sunday.
Justin Jackson, Milwaukee Bucks forward
122–108 Saturday win vs. Miami —
Didn’t play
118–112 Sunday loss at Chicago 33 minutes, 9 points, 3–9 FG, 2–6 3FG, 1–2 FT, 6 rebounds, 1 assist, 1 turnover, +4, 5.4 game score
Season statistics — 34 games, 7.2 points, 2.3 rebounds, 1.5 assists, 40.3FG%, 30.8%3P, 83.3FT%
Up next — No. 3 Eastern Conference seed; will face No. 6-seed Miami with game 1 Saturday at 1 p.m. on ESPN
Cameron Johnson, Phoenix Suns wing
Saturday win at San Antonio and 123–121 Sunday win at San Antonio — Didn’t play in either game; missed last six games of the regular season with a right wrist sprain
Season statistics — 60 games, 9.6 points, 3.3 rebounds, 1.4 assists, 42.0FG%, 34.9%3P, 84.7FT%
Up next — No. 2 Western Conference seed; will face the No. 7 seed Los Angeles Lakers in the first round, with Game 1 on Sunday at 3:30 p.m. on ABC
Nassir Little, Portland Blazers forward/guard
132–116 Sunday win vs. Denver —
6 minutes, 4 points, 2–2 FG, 1 rebound, 1 assist, -7, 4.0 game score
Season statistics — 48 games, 4.6 points, 2.7 rebounds, 0.5 of an assist, 46.7%FG, 35.0%3P, 80.0FT%
Up next — No. 6 Western Conference seed; will face No. 3-seed Denver in the first round, with Game 1 Saturday at 10:30 p.m. on ESPN
Theo Pinson, New York Knicks guard/forward
118–109 win
Saturday vs. Charlotte and 96–92 Sunday win vs. Boston — Didn’t play in either game; hasn’t played for six consecutive game
Season statistics — 17 games, 2 points, 1–9 FG, 0–8 3FG, 5 rebounds, 1 assist
Up next — No. 4 Eastern Conference seed; will face No. 6 Miami in the first round with Game 1 Sunday
Coby White, Chicago Bulls point guard
105–91 Saturday loss at Brooklyn — Started; 34 minutes, 3 points, 1–10 FG, 1–6 3FG, 7 rebounds, 6 assists, 3 turnovers, -17,-0.7 game score
118–112 Sunday win vs. Milwaukee Started; 31 minutes, 19 points, 6–13 FG, 4–9 3FG, 3–4 FT, 5 rebounds, 5 assists, 1 steal, 1 block, 4 turnovers, -9, 14.2 game score
Season statistics — 69 games, 15.1 points, 4.1 rebounds, 4.8 assists, 41.6FG%, 35.9%3P, 90.1 FT%
Up next — Season over

What is a game score? Here is an exclamation.

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