Tar Heels in NBA: Barnes puts up career-highs with 36 points and eight 3-pointers in win

By R.L. Bynum

It was a sensational and impressive start to the season for Harrison Barnes. The Black Falcon was soaring.

In the Sacramento Kings’ 124–121 road victory over the Portland Trail Blazers, Barnes scored 36 points and had eight 3-pointers, both career-highs. He also had nine rebounds, two assists and two steals in 36 minutes.

He became the first NBA player to score at least 35 points with no turnovers and no fouls in a season opener since turnovers were first tracked in the 1977–78 season.

Only Boston’s Jaylen Brown, who scored 46 points in the Celtics’ double-overtime loss at New York, scored more points on Wednesday.

Barnes’ 33.2 game score also was a career-high, topping the 27.6 he put up last season on Jan. 11 in a 30-point, eight-rebound game against the Indiana Pacers.

Barnes’ career-high at Carolina in both points and 3-pointers came in a 40-point, six 3-pointer game March 12, 2011, in a 92–87 ACC tournament victory over Clemson.

Before the season, Sacramento coach Luke Walton challenged Barnes, in his 10th NBA season, to be more aggressive and, evidently, the message was received.

“I was happy,” Walton said. “One of the things I’ve challenged Harrison on all summer — even into last year — we need him to be aggressive. I don’t mean that as go 1-on-1 and take a bunch of shots. I want him to get up eight 3s a night. He’s a very good shooter, and there’s no reason he can’t make those shots. We needed all those points tonight.

“That’s really how we want to see Harrison play all the time,” Walton said. “Some nights they’ll go, some nights they won’t. But we definitely want him taking those shots. He was a big reason why we won tonight.”

Back-to-back 3-pointers in the third quarter from Barnes pushed the Kings’ lead to 75–57 with 7:50 left in the third quarter. He added a 3-pointer late in the quarter to make it 100–83.

“It was fun to be a part of, fun to see,” Kings center Richaun Holmes said. “Harrison, everybody on the team can tell he’s always putting his work in. He’s getting his work in early, late, so we expect that from him. The amount of work he puts in, we expect nothing but the best from him. He can be that type of player for us every night. We have the ultimate trust in him.”

Barnes, who pushed the lead to 120–114 with 1:39 left on a 3-pointer, made two free throws with 8.8 seconds left. Portland’s Damian Lillard then missed a potential tying 3-point attempt with 1.5 seconds left.

Nassir Little scored seven points in 15 minutes for Portland in the loss, pulling down three rebounds and making his only 3-point attempt.

Cameron Johnson came off the bench to score 11 points on 3 of 5 shooting from 3-point range in the Phoenix Suns’ 110–98 home loss to the Denver Nuggets.

Cole Anthony started Orlando’s opener at point guard with Markelle Fultz, the presumptive starter at the position, inactive for the Magic’s 123–97 road loss to the San Antonio Spurs. Fultz tore the left ACL in early January and wasn’t yet deemed ready to play.

Anthony collected 10 points, five rebounds and four assists but struggled with his shot, making only 3 of 12 shots and 1 of 7 3-point attempts.

Danny Green had a quiet game in Philadelphia’s 112–97 road victory over New Orleans. He went scoreless and missed his only shot, a 3-point attempt, and had no rebounds or assists.

On Tuesday night, Wayne Ellington missed the Los Angeles Lakers’ 121–114 home loss to the Golden State Warriors with a sore hamstring and Day’Ron Sharpe was out for the Brooklyn Nets’ 127–104 road loss to the Milwaukee Bucks with a right toe strain.

How Tar Heels did in openers

Cole Anthony, Orlando Magic guard
123–97 Wednesday loss at San Antonio —
Started; 30 minutes, 10 points, 3–12 FG, 1–7 3FG, 3–4 FT, 5 rebounds, 4 assists, -3, 2.9 game score
Up next — 7 p.m. Friday vs. New York; 7 p.m. Sunday at New York
Harrison Barnes, Sacramento Kings forward
124–121 Wednesday win at Portland —
Started; 36 minutes, 36 points, 10–19 FG, 8–11 3FG, 8–9 FT, 9 rebounds, 2 assists, 2 steals, +6, 33.2 game score
Up next — 10 p.m. Friday vs. Utah; 9 p.m. Sunday vs. Golden State
Tony Bradley, Chicago Bulls center
94–88 Wednesday win at Detroit —
Didn’t play (coach’s decision)
Up next — 8 p.m. Friday vs. New Orleans; 8 p.m. Saturday vs. Detroit
Reggie Bullock, Dallas Mavericks guard/forward
Opener at 7:30 p.m. Thursday at Atlanta, TNT
Up next after opener —
7:30 Saturday at Toronto; 8:30 Tuesday vs. Houston
Ed Davis, Cleveland Cavaliers center
132–131 Wednesday loss at Memphis —
Didn’t play (coach’s decision)
Up next — 7 p.m. Friday vs. Charlotte, CSSE; 6 p.m. Saturday vs. Atlanta
Wayne Ellington, Los Angeles Lakers guard
121–114 loss Tuesday vs. Golden State —
Missed game with sore hamstring
Up next — 10 p.m. Friday vs. Phoenix, ESPN; 9:30 Sunday vs. Memphis
Danny Green, Philadelphia 76ers forward
112–97 Wednesday win at New Orleans —
Started; 18 minutes, 0–1 FG, 0–1 3FG, 0–0 FT, +11, -1.9 game score
Up next — 7:30 Friday vs. Brooklyn; 7 p.m. Sunday at Oklahoma City
Cameron Johnson, Phoenix Suns wing
110–98 Wednesday loss vs. Denver —
23 minutes, 11 points, 4–10 FG, 3–5 3FG, 0–0 FT, 2 rebounds, 1 assist, 1 steal, -5, 6.9 game score
Up next — 10 p.m. Friday at L.A. Lakers, ESPN; 10 p.m. Saturday at Portland, NBATV
Nassir Little, Portland Trail Blazers forward/guard
124–121 Wednesday loss vs. Sacramento —
15 minutes, 7 points, 3–5 FG, 1–1 3FG, 0–0 FT, 3 rebounds, -1, 5.0 game score
Up next — 10 p.m. Saturday vs. Phoenix, NBATV; 10:30 Monday at L.A. Clippers, NBATV
Day’Ron Sharpe, Brooklyn Nets center
127–104 loss Tuesday at Milwaukee —
Missed game with a right toe strain
Up next — 7:30 Friday at Philadelphia, ESPN; 4 p.m. Sunday vs. Charlotte, BSSE
Coby White, Chicago Bulls guard
Wednesday at Detroit —
Didn’t play; still recovering from left shoulder surgery
Up next — 8 p.m. Friday vs. New Orleans; 8 p.m. Saturday vs. Detroit
Tar Heels in G-League
Justin Jackson, Texas Legends forward (Dallas Mavericks’ team)
Theo Pinson, Maine Celtics guard (Boston Celtics’ team)

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