Tar Heels in NBA: Little hits season-high 28 points but depleted Blazers fall; Anthony scores 21; White, who Bulls coach calls more complete player, scores 13

By R.L. Bynum

Without four regular Portland starters, Nassir Little came off the bench to play his most minutes in over a month and the third-most this season.

He did all he could for the depleted Blazers with a season-high 28 points in 31 minutes as they kept it close before losing 118–112 at home Sunday night against the Oklahoma City Thunder.

“I’m not really trying to show anything particular,” Little said. “When guys get down, you get more opportunities. Whatever situation Coach has got me in, take advantage of it. Just got to be aggressive. My mindset has to change a little bit. They’re gonna need me to score a little bit more. I was kind of doing that, but it’s something that I’m capable of doing. So it’s not really like I feel like I’m trying to showcase something that they don’t know I can do.”

The Blazers (32–42) played without Damian Lillard (right calf injury), Anfernee Simons (right foot), forward Jerami Grant (left calf) and center Jusuf Nurkic (right knee). They fell to four games back of the 10th and final Western Conference spot in the play-in tournament.

“I love playing basketball; that’s what I love to do,” Little said. “That’s what I’ve been doing for a majority of my life. So, anytime I have the opportunity to get to do that at the highest level, I love that. I wish it could be under a different circumstance. But at the end of the day, we have a job to do and you know, I’m prepared to do that.”

The latest Portland loss clearly wasn’t Little’s fault; he made 11 of 21 field-goal attempts, both numbers tying career-highs, was 3 of 6 from 3-point range and had six rebounds. It was Little’s 10th career game with at least three 3-pointers, seven of those this season.

Little praised Coach Chauncey Billups for putting him in position to be successful.

“Coach did a great job of drawing stuff, having me come off pin-downs, and it allowed me to be aggressive,” Little said. “I was able to see lanes and see how I could get my shot. So, props to him for  getting me a position to get the ball get open. I was kind of taking advantage of what they’re giving.”

Little’s only better scoring night in his three-year NBA career was his 30 points at Milwaukee on Feb. 1, 2021. It was Little’s sixth career game with at least 20 points. His best scoring game in his only season at Carolina was 23 points on Jan. 21, 2019, in a win against Virginia Tech.

The 16.3 game score was his second-best of the season behind only the 23.3 he put up in a 26-point, three-rebound, four-steal game at Sacramento on Feb. 23.

If all those starters are out again for Monday night’s home game against New Orleans, it could be another chance for Little to shine.

Cole Anthony scored a game-high 21 points in 31 minutes off the bench for his eighth consecutive double-figure scoring game to lead Orlando to a 119–106 home win Sunday over the Brooklyn Nets.

It was the eighth game of at least 20 points this season for Anthony, who had six rebounds and three assists. He has at least 14 points and at least five rebounds in eight consecutive games, all as a reserve.

Mikal Bridges’ career-high 44 points weren’t enough for the Nets, who got 10 points and three rebounds from Cameron Johnson. Day’Ron Sharpe added eight points and six rebounds for the Nets, playing for the second consecutive night.

Coby White scored 13 points and three 3-pointers and added seven rebounds and six assists in Chicago’s 118–108 Sunday road win over the Los Angeles Lakers.

In an NBC Sports story, Bulls coach Billy Donovan said that White is starting to become a “complete player.”

“I think he’s really evolving into a two-way player,” Donovan said after Chicago’s win Saturday over Portland. “He’s playmaking. He’s passing. He’s driving. He’s making good decisions. He’s defending. He’s playing two ways. Whether or not he misses or makes shots, it doesn’t really make a difference. He’s impacting winning.”

White said that his hard work last summer, particularly working on his defense, has paid off.

“I feel like the game is slowing down a lot. Just getting reps, especially in-game reps, is the best teacher. I’m just going to continue to try to get better. I got a long way to go still,” said White, who is playing more minutes, including late in games. “My defense has allowed me to get a good amount of minutes. I’m proud of myself in that regard. I feel like I’m playing my game and trying to help the team in any way I can.”

Reggie Bullock had three points and six rebounds in Dallas’ 110–104 Sunday loss at Charlotte. Theo Pinson didn’t play (coach’s decision).

Danny Green didn’t play because of illness in Cleveland’s 108–91 home win over Houston that clinched a playoff spot.

Cole Anthony, Orlando Magic guard
Age 22 | 6–3, 185 | third NBA season | UNC 2019–20 (1 season)

119–106 Sunday win vs. Brooklyn 31 minutes, 21 points, 8–13 FG, 1–2 3FG, 4–4 FT, 6 rebounds, 3 assists, 5 fouls, plus/minus of 0, 17.4 game score
Season statistics — 55 games, 12.9 points, 44.9 FG%, 36.2 3P%, 89.4 FT%, 4.7 rebounds, 3.9 assists
Next games — 8 p.m. Tuesday at Memphis; 7 p.m. Friday at Washington

Harrison Barnes, Sacramento Kings forward
Age 30 | 6–8, 225 | 11th NBA season | UNC 2010–12 (2 seasons)

Off Sunday
Season statistics — 74 games, 15.1 points, 47.3 FG%, 37.7 3FG%, 84.7 FT%, 4.6 rebounds, 1.6 assists
Next games 10 p.m. Monday vs. Minnesota; 10 p.m. Wednesday at Portland

Reggie Bullock, Dallas Mavericks small forward
Age 32 | 6–6, 205 | 10th NBA season | UNC 2010–13 (3 seasons)

110–104 Sunday loss at Charlotte Started; 34 minutes, 3 points, 1–5 FG, 1–5 3FG, 6 rebounds, 3 fouls, -8, 0.5 game score
Season statistics 72 games, 7.3 points, 41.0 FG%, 38.7 3P%, 70.3 FT%, 3.7 rebounds, 1.4 assists
Next games 7 p.m. Monday at Indiana, NBATV; 7:30 Wednesday at Philadelphia, ESPN

Danny Green, Cleveland Cavaliers guard
Age 35 | 6–6, 205 | 13th NBA season | UNC 2005–09 (4 seasons)

108–91 Sunday win vs. Houston Didn’t play (illness)
Season statistics 9 games, 88 minutes, 27 points, 9–23 FG, 8–18 3FG, 7 rebounds, 2 assists, 3 steals
Next games 7:30 Tuesday at Atlanta; 7:30 Friday vs. New York

Cameron Johnson, Brooklyn Nets forward
Age 27 | 6–8, 210 | fourth NBA season | UNC 2017–19 (2 seasons)

119–106 Sunday loss at Orlando Started; 26 minutes, 10 points, 4–10 FG, 1–5 3FG, 1–1 FT, 3 rebounds, 1 assist, 1 block, 2 turnovers, 3 fouls, -14, 4.5 game score
Season statistics — 36 games, 14.9 points, 45.3 FG%, 39.6 3P%, 82.4 FT%, 4.2 rebounds, 1.7 assists
Next games 7:30 Wednesday vs. Houston; 7:30 Friday vs. Atlanta

Walker Kessler, Utah Jazz center
Age 21 | 7–0, 245 | rookie NBA season | UNC 2020–21 (1 season)

Off Sunday
Season statistics 70 games, 8.9 points, 72.2 FG%, 1–2 3FG, 52.3 FT%, 8.3 rebounds, 0.9 of an assist, 2.3 blocks
Next games 9 p.m. Monday vs. Phoenix; 8 p.m. Wednesday at San Antonio

Nassir Little, Portland Trail Blazers forward
Age 23 | 6–5, 220 | third NBA season | UNC 2018–19 (1 season)

118–112 Sunday loss vs. Oklahoma City 31 minutes, 28 points (season-high), 11(ties career-high)–21 (ties career-high) FG, 3–6 3FG, 3–3 FT, 6 rebounds, 2 turnovers, 5 fouls, -5, 16.3 game score (second-highest this season)
Season statistics — 51 games, 6.6 points, 46.0 FG%, 38.5 3P%, 71.4 FT%, 2.7 rebounds, 0.9 of an assist
Next games 10 p.m. Monday vs. New Orleans; 10 p.m. Wednesday vs. Sacramento

Theo Pinson, Dallas Mavericks guard
Age 27 | 6–5, 212 | fifth NBA season | UNC 2014–18 (4 seasons)

110–104 Sunday loss at Charlotte Didn’t play (coach’s decision)
Season statistics — 37 games, 1.7 points, 32.8 FG%, 34.1 3P%, 81.8 FT, 1.1 rebounds, 0.8 of an assist
Next games 7 p.m. Monday at Indiana, NBATV; 7:30 Wednesday at Philadelphia, ESPN

Day’Ron Sharpe, Brooklyn Nets center
Age 21 | 6–9, 265 | second NBA season | UNC 2020–21 (1 season)

119–106 Sunday loss at Orlando 15 minutes, 8 points, 3–4 FG, 2–2 FT, 6 rebounds, 1 steal, 1 block, 1 turnover, 4 blocks, -12, 9.3 game score
Season NBA statistics — 41 games, 4.8 points, 54.4 FG%, 6–11 3FG, 66.7 FT%, 4.1 rebounds, 0.8 of an assist, 0.7 of a block
Season G League statistics 14 games, 16.3 points, 64.4 2PFG%, 21.1 3FG%, 57.1 FT%, 12.4 rebounds, 2.6 assists, 1.6 blocks, 12 double-doubles
Next games 7:30 Wednesday vs. Houston; 7:30 Friday vs. Atlanta

Coby White, Chicago Bulls guard
Age 23 | 6–4, 195 | fourth NBA season| UNC 2018–19 (1 season)

118–108 Sunday win at Los Angeles Lakers 26 minutes, 13 points, 5–17 FG, 3–8 3FG, 7 rebounds, 6 assists, 1 steal, 1 turnover, 1 foul, +19, 9.8 game score
Season statistics 66 games, 9.3 points, 43.0 FG%, 37.3 3P%, 85.7 FT%, 2.7 rebounds, 2.5 assists
Next games 10:30 Monday at Los Angeles Clippers; 8 p.m. Wednesday vs. Los Angeles Lakers

Bradley free agent

On Feb. 21, Chicago waived Tony Bradley. His season statistics: 12 games, 33 minutes, 19 points, 6–12 FG, 3–5 3FG, 4–4 FT, 11 rebounds, 1 assist, 1 steal, 1 block

In the G League

Garrison Brooks, Westchester Knicks center
Age 23 | 6–10, 240 | Rookie | UNC 2017–21 (4 seasons)

Season over
Season statistics 37 games, 13.6 points, 62.3 2P FGP%, 0–20 3P, 59.5 FT%, 11.6 rebounds, 2.4 assists, 0.6 of a block, 24 double-doubles

Justin Jackson, Texas Legends forward
Age 27 | 6–8, 220 | Sixth pro season | UNC 2014–27 (3 seasons)

G League season over
Season G League statistics — 14 games, 21.1 points, 44.2 FG%, 42.2 3FG%, 62.1 FT%, 6.4 rebounds, 3.0 assists
Season NBA statistics (with Boston) — 23 games, 107 minutes, 20 points, 7–27 FG, 5–20 3FG, 17 rebounds, 9 assists, 4 blocks, 4 steals

Get an explanation of the game score metric here. Michael Jordan produced the all-time-high game score of 64.6 on March 28, 1990, in the Chicago Bulls’ 117–113 overtime win at Cleveland. Jordan had 69 points on 23 of 37 shooting (2 of 6 from 3-point range), made 21 of 23 free-throw attempts and collected 18 rebounds, six assists, four steals and a block.

Photo via @trailblazers


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