Tar Heels in NBA: Anthony plays well again in second game back; Little out six weeks; Kessler has best game of rookie season

By R.L. Bynum

It’s only taken Cole Anthony two games to find a groove after missing 16 games with a right oblique tear. In his 25th NBA game, Walker Kessler had the best night of his rookie season, but there was bad injury news for Nassir Little.

Anthony had a good all-around game with 19 points, three 3-pointers, six rebounds, three assists, three steals and a block in the Orlando Magic’s 107–96 road loss Friday to the Cleveland Cavaliers.

“I thought we played a pretty solid game,” Anthony said, noting the 18 turnovers. “That’s too much against a good team.”

His 19.1 game score was his best since putting up a 19.7 when he scored 25 points on Oct. 21 against Atlanta in his season debut. After playing nearly 29 minutes, Anthony said he felt good and was in good shape.

After the second game back for Anthony and Markelle Fultz, who returned after missing 21 games with a broken left toe, Orlando can only hope to get some wins after the Magic’s seventh consecutive loss dropped its record to a league-worst 5–18.

The third quarter was Orlando’s undoing.

‘We came out starting that third quarter a little bit flat,” Anthony said of after a seven-point halftime deficit became 18. “We were a little sloppy; just gotta clean it up.”

A big problem Friday was Cleveland’s Donovan Mitchell, who led the Cavaliers with 35 points.

“Mitchell is an all-star, man, and we’ve got to do a better job on him early,” said Anthony in the postgame press conference with an ice pack on his left shoulder. “I know when I hit a couple of shots right away, it really gets me going. We can’t let him get off like that.”


Portland’s Nassir Little, who left Tuesday’s game with a right hip injury, is expected to miss the next six weeks with a mild femoral impaction fracture.

In his fourth NBA season, Little was averaging 5.5 points and 2.4 rebounds a game and shooting 47.3% from the floor. His best game was 15 points on Nov. 10 against New Orleans.

Last season, Little suffered a torn labrum in his left shoulder on Jan. 25 and missed the rest of the season. He had successful surgery to repair the injury in May.


Kessler had an efficient game in Utah’s 139–119 home win over Indiana. The rookie scored a season-high 20 points and pulled down 11 rebounds in 25 minutes.

He made all seven shots, was 6 of 8 from the free-throw line and blocked two shots. Kessler has multiple blocks in 11 of 22 games.

That matched his best game during his season at Carolina when he had 20 points and 10 rebounds on Feb. 27, 2021, against Florida State.

The 21.5 game score easily topped his best previous effort of 14.8 in a 12-point, six-rebound game on Nov. 9 at Atlanta.


In Chicago’s 119–111 Friday loss at Golden State, Coby White played seven scoreless minutes with two rebounds and one assist, getting off only one shot. For the sixth time in the last seven games, Tony Bradley didn’t play (coach’s decision).


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For the second consecutive Dallas game, Reggie Bullock wasn’t in the Mavericks’ starting lineup, this time for their 131–125 overtime loss Thursday at Detroit. In 22 minutes, he had six points, one 3-pointer, four rebounds and a steal. Theo Pinson didn’t play (coach’s decision) for the second straight game.


Justin Jackson didn’t play (coach’s decision) in Boston’s 120–116 Friday home loss to Miami and Day’Ron Sharpe didn’t play (coach’s decision) in Brooklyn’s 114–105 Friday home win over Toronto.


For the first time in 10 games with the Westchester Knicks of the G League, Garrison Brooks didn’t start on Thursday night. In the Knicks’ 141–100 home win over College Park, he had 12 points, 15 rebounds and three assists in 24 minutes. He is back to leading the league in rebounding at 12.4 per game.

Cole Anthony, Orlando Magic guard

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

107–96 Friday loss at Cleveland Didn’t start; 29 minutes, 19 points, 7–11 FG, 3–4 3FG, 2–2 FT, 6 rebounds, 3 assists, 3 steals, 1 block, 1 turnover, 4 fouls, -5, 19.1 game score
Season statistics —
6 games, 15.3 points, 45.1 FG%, 40.0 3P%, 81.8 FT%, 4.8 rebounds, 3.7 assists, 1.2 of a steal
Next games —
8 p.m. Saturday at Toronto; 7 p.m. Monday vs Milwaukee


Harrison Barnes, Sacramento Kings forward

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

Off Thursday and Friday
Season statistics — 20 games, 13.2 points, 47.6 FG%, 28.1 3FG%, 86.9 FT%, 5.5 rebounds, 2.0 assists
Next games 4 p.m. Saturday at Los Angeles Clippers; 6 p.m. Sunday vs. Chicago


Tony Bradley, Chicago Bulls center

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

119–111 Friday loss at Golden State — Didn’t play (coach’s decision)
Season statistics — 6 games, 15 minutes, 7 points, 2–4 FG, 2–2 FT, 7 rebounds
Next games 6 p.m. Sunday at Sacramento; 8 p.m. Wednesday vs. Washington


Reggie Bullock, Dallas Mavericks small forward

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

131–125 OT Thursday loss at Detroit Didn’t start; 22 minutes, 6 points, 2–4 FG, 1–3 3FG, 1–2 FT, 4 rebounds, 1 steal, 1 foul, +9, 5.4 game score
Season statistics 20 games, 4.9 points, 29.9 FG%, 27.3 3P%, 69.2 FT%, 3.0 rebounds, 1.0 assists
Next games 12:30 Saturday at New York; 8:30 Monday vs. Phoenix, NBATV


Justin Jackson, Boston Celtics forward

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

120–116 Friday loss vs. Miami — Didn’t play (coach’s decision)
Season statistics — 8 games, 45 minutes, 6 points, 2–10 FG, 2–9 3FG, 5 rebounds, 2 assists, 1 block, 2 steals
Next games — 6 p.m. Sunday at Brooklyn; 7:30 Monday at Toronto


Walker Kessler, Utah Jazz center

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

139–119 Friday win vs. Indiana — 25 minutes, 20 points, 7–7 FG, 6–8 FT, 11 rebounds, 1 assist, 2 blocks, 1 turnover, 4 fouls, +4, 21.5 game score (season-high)
Season statistics 22 games, 5.7 points, 74.3 FG%, 56.8 FT%, 5.1 rebounds, 0.7 of an assist, 1.6 blocks
Next games 9 p.m. Saturday vs. Portland; 9 p.m. Wednesday vs. Golden State


Nassir Little, Portland Trail Blazers small forward

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

Off Thursday and Friday; will miss the next six weeks with a mild femoral impaction fracture to his right hip
Season statistics 21 games, 5.5 points, 47.3 FG%, 37.2 3P%, 66.7 FT%, 2.4 rebounds, 0.9 of an assist
Next games 9 p.m. Saturday at Utah; 9 p.m. Sunday vs. Indiana, NBATV


Theo Pinson, Dallas Mavericks guard

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

131–125 OT Thursday loss at Detroit — Didn’t play (coach’s decision)
Season statistics — 4 games, 16 minutes, 4 points, 1–2 FG, 0–1 3FG, 2–2 FT, 5 rebounds, 1 assist
Next games 12:30 Saturday at New York; 8:30 Monday vs. Phoenix, NBATV


Day’Ron Sharpe, Brooklyn Nets center

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

114–105 Friday win vs. Toronto — Didn’t play (coach’s decision)
Season statistics 14 games, 111 minutes, 38 points, 14–30 FG, 2–3 3FG, 8–12 FG, 40 rebounds, 9 assists, 3 steals, 7 blocks
Next games 6 p.m. Sunday vs. Boston; 7:30 Wednesday vs. Charlotte, Bally Sports Southeast


Coby White, Chicago Bulls guard

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

119–111 Friday loss at Golden State — 7 minutes, 0 points, 0–1 FG, 0–1 3FG, 2 rebounds, 1 assist, 2 fouls, -3, -0.2 game score
Season statistics 14 games, 7.5 points, 40.4 FG%, 32.8 3P%, 1.9 rebounds, 1.6 assists
Next games 6 p.m. Sunday at Sacramento; 8 p.m. Wednesday vs. Washington


In the G League

Garrison Brooks, Westchester Knicks center

Age 23 | 6–10, 240 | Rookie| UNC 2017–21 (4 seasons)

141–100 Thursday win vs. College Park Didn’t start; 24 minutes, 12 points, 6–9 FG, 15 rebounds, 3 assists, 2 fouls, +22
Season statistics 10 games, 13.2 points, 60.2 FG%, 0–8 3P, 63.2 FT%, 12.5 rebounds, 3.3 assists, 1.6 steals
Next games 7 p.m. Saturday vs. Capital City; 7 p.m. Monday vs. Capitol City


Out while recovering from surgery

— Phoenix forward Cameron Johnson is expected to return early this month 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.


Get an explanation of the game score metric here.

Photo via @OrlandoMagic

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