Tar Heels in NBA: Little has best game of the season, hits key late buckets in Blazers win

By R.L. Bynum

When given a chance to show his ability this season, Nassir Little has taken advantage of the opportunity and Wednesday night in New Orleans was one of those occasions.

In a season-high of nearly 24 minutes, Little scored a season-high 15 points and hit some key late baskets as the Portland Trail Blazers won their third consecutive game, all on the road, with a 106–95 victory over the Pelicans.

“We needed Nas’ energy, we needed his shot-making, his athleticism,” Portland coach Chauncey Billups said. “And he just seemed really at ease out there tonight.”

Little, who scored eight points in the fourth quarter, had a dunk and a follow shot during a pivotal 11–2 fourth-quarter run as Portland (9–3) moved a half-game back of the Utah Jazz for the Western Conference lead.

“When he gets that slashing to the basket, he’s really effective,” teammate and former Duke star forward Justise Winslow told The Oregonian.

Little, whose 9.5 game score tied a season-high, shot well but often made the Pelicans pay with drives to the basket.

“In the second half, it just kind of flowed,” said Little, who suffered a season-ending injury in January and had shoulder surgery. “Just get in those modes at times where you’re just seeing the gaps the right way, being aggressive and things worked out.”

Little’s contribution was significant because Damian Lillard sat out for medical reasons after scoring 26 points in Charlotte the night before. Jusef Nurkick (right adductor soreness) and Shaedon Sharpe (sprained finger on right hand) also missed the game.

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“I feel like with guys out, guys got to step out,” Little said. “I think I’ve been playing pretty well all season, but it’s just a matter of with guys out, get my opportunity and things like that happen.”

Little has 3-pointers in seven consecutive games for only the second time in his career, after doing it once last season and is shooting 46.4% from outside the arc. His best previous 3-point percentage in the NBA was 35% in the 2020–21 season

“I’ve been working on it diligently,” said Little, who was 14 of 52 from 3-point range (26.9%) during his one season at Carolina. He made multiple 3-pointers twice at UNC but has already done it three times this season.


After two consecutive scoreless games, Reggie Bullock — who has started all 11 Dallas games — scored six points on a pair of 3-pointers in the Mavericks’ 113–104 loss at Washington. He added five rebounds, two assists and a steal.

Bullock, who is shooting 31.9% from 3-point range, has a history of rebounding from tough starts to seasons and playing well down the stretch. For his career, he’s shot 29.3% from 3-point range in October and November but 39.9% from December to April, including 43.3% in February and 44.5% in April.

Theo Pinson got into a game for the second time this season but played only 11 seconds.


Cole Anthony has already been ruled out for Orlando’s home game Friday against Phoenix. He will miss his eighth consecutive game, dealing with a right internal oblique tear. The Suns’ Cameron Johnson, of course, will miss that game as he recovers from right knee surgery.

Cole Anthony, Orlando Magic guard

Age 22 | 6–3, 185 | third NBA season | UNC 2019–20 (1 season)

Off Thursday
Season statistics — 4 games, 15.5 points, 41.5 FG%, 35.0 3P%, 73.4 FT%, 4.5 rebounds, 4.3 assists, 1.7 turnovers, 1.0 steal
Next games — 7 p.m. Friday vs. Phoenix; 7 p.m. Monday vs. Charlotte, Bally Sports Southeast
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Harrison Barnes, Sacramento Kings forward

Age 30 | 6–8, 225 | 11th NBA season | UNC 2010–12 (2 seasons)

Off Thursday
Season statistics — 10 games, 10.9 points, 40.5 FG%, 20.6 3FG%, 79.1 FT%, 5.7 rebounds, 2.0 assists
Next games 10:30 Friday at Los Angeles Lakers; 9 p.m. Sunday vs. Golden State
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Tony Bradley, Chicago Bulls center

Age 24 | 6–10, 248 | sixth NBA season | UNC 2016–17 (1 season)

Off Thursday
Season statistics — 3 games, 0 points, 0–1 FG, 1.3 rebounds
Next games 8 p.m. Sunday vs. Denver; 8 p.m. Wednesday at New Orleans
———————————————

Reggie Bullock, Dallas Mavericks small forward

Age 31 | 6–6, 205 | 10th NBA season | UNC 2010–13 (3 seasons)

113–105 Thursday loss at Washington — Started; 27 minutes, 6 points, 2–4 FG, 2–4 3FG, 5 rebounds, 2 assists, 1 steal, 1 foul, +1
Season statistics 11 games, 4.9 points, 30.5 FG%, 31.9 3P%, 60.0 FT%, 3.0 rebounds, 1.0 assist
Next games 8:30 Saturday vs. Portland; 8:30 Tuesday vs. Los Angeles Clippers
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Justin Jackson, Boston Celtics forward

Age 27 | 6–8, 220| sixth NBA season | UNC 2014–17 (3 seasons)

Off Thursday
Season statistics — 3 games, 6 points, 2–7 FG, 2–7 3FG, 1 rebound, 1 assist
Next games — 7:30 Friday vs. Denver, NBATV; 7 p.m. Saturday at Detroit
———————————————

Walker Kessler, Utah Jazz center

Age 21 | 7–0, 245 | rookie NBA season | UNC 2020–21 (1 season)

Off Thursday
Season statistics 10 games, 6.1 points, 74.3 FG, 56.3 FT, 5.0 rebounds, 0.8 of an assist, 1.7 blocks
Next games 6 p.m. Saturday at Washington; 7:30 Sunday at Philadelphia
———————————————

Nassir Little, Portland Trail Blazers small forward

Age 22 | 6–5, 220 | fourth NBA season | UNC 2018–19 (1 season)

106–95 Thursday win at New Orleans — 24 minutes, 15 points, 6–11 FG, 1–3 3FG, 4 rebounds, 1 turnover, 1 foul, -1
Season statistics 11 games, 6.1 points, 52.1 FG%, 46.2 3P%, 2.5 rebounds, 1.1 assists
Next games 8:30 Saturday at Dallas; 10 p.m. Tuesday vs. San Antonio
———————————————

Theo Pinson, Dallas Mavericks guard

Age 27 | 6–5, 212 | fifth NBA season | UNC 2014–18 (4 seasons)

113–105 Thursday loss at Washington — 11 seconds, plus/minus of 0
Season statistics — 2 games, 7 minutes, 2 points, 2–2 FT, 2 rebounds, 1 assist
Next games 8:30 Saturday vs. Portland; 8:30 Tuesday vs. Los Angeles Clippers
———————————————

Day’Ron Sharpe, Brooklyn Nets center

Age 21 | 6–9, 265 | second NBA season | UNC 2020–21 (1 season)

Off Thursday
Season statistics 8 games, 2.5 points, 42.1 FG%, 0–1 3P, 3.4 rebounds, 0.6 of an assist
Next games 4 p.m. Saturday at Los Angeles Clippers; 9:30 Sunday at Los Angeles Lakers, NBATV
———————————————

Coby White, Chicago Bulls guard

Age 22 | 6–4, 195 | fourth NBA season| UNC 2018–19 (1 season)

Off Thursday
Season statistics 7 games, 8.1 points, 38.2 FG%, 29.4 3P%, 1.7 rebounds, 1.7 assists
Next games 8 p.m. Sunday vs. Denver; 8 p.m. Wednesday at New Orleans
———————————————
Out while recovering from surgery
— Phoenix forward Cameron Johnson is expected to return in early December or as late as early January after having right knee surgery on Nov. 8. His season statistics: 8 games, 13.0 points, 44.6 FG%, 43.1 3P%, 72.7 FT%, 2.8 rebounds, 1.8 assists
— Memphis forward Danny Green will miss most of the season after surgery to repair a torn ACL and LCL in his left knee suffered in May.
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Get an explanation of the game score metric here.

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