Tar Heels in NBA: Pinson’s triple-double highlights final day of regular season: five UNC alums begin postseason play this week

By R.L. Bynum

Theo Pinson’s amazing career-best triple-double performance was the highlight as the NBA finished its regular season, and only five UNC alums will play in the postseason.  

Pinson’s triple-double — with 23 points, 13 rebounds and 12 assists, all career-highs — was the first by a Tar Heel in six seasons. He became the fourth player in NBA history to put up those totals without a turnover. Read more about Pinson’s big game and watch highlights here.

Heading to the Eastern Conference play-in tournament are Coby White’s Chicago Bulls. Harrison Barnes’ Sacramento Kings, Cameron Johnson, Day’Ron Sharpe and the Brooklyn Nets, and Danny Green’s Cleveland Cavaliers all secured spots in first-round playoff series.

White had five points and three rebounds Sunday in the Bulls’ 103–81 Sunday home win over Detroit, and was the only UNC alum to play in a victory on a day in which every league team played.

Chicago (40–42) plays in a single-elimination game at Toronto at 7 p.m. Wednesday (ESPN). With a win, the Bulls would advance to a road game at 7 p.m. or 7:30 Friday (TNT) against the winner of Tuesday’s Atlanta at Miami game. Should Chicago win twice, it would face Milwaukee, the Eastern Conference’s No. 1 seed, in a first-round series. Game 1 of that series would be Sunday.

Although White’s scoring and minutes average were down from the previous season (9.7 points in 23.5 minutes compared to 12.7 in 27.5), his overall game improved and he shot better (44.2% compared to 43.3%).

Barnes scored 17 points and five 3-pointers in Sacramento’s 109–95 Sunday loss at Denver. His Kings (48–34) are the Western Conference’s No. 3 seed and will meet No. 6-seed Golden State with home-court advantage in the first round.

Game 1 of that series is at 8:30 Saturday in Sacramento (ABC). Barnes won an NBA title with the Warriors in 2015, and there are rumors that they may try to bring him back if Draymond Green leaves the team after this season.

Although Sacramento had its best season in years with its first playoff berth in 16 seasons, Barnes’ per-game numbers were down from the previous season, going from 16.4 points to 15, from 5.6 rebounds to 4.6 and from 2.4 assists to 1.6. In addition, his 3-point shooting percentage of 36.7% was his lowest since shooting 35.7% for Dallas in the 2017–18 season.

Johnson was one of the Nets’ regulars who rested during their 134–105 Sunday home loss to Philadelphia. Sharpe started, and collected five points, 10 rebounds, four assists and two blocks in 25 minutes.

Brooklyn (45–37) is the Eastern Conference’s No. 6 seed and will face No. 3-seed Philadelphia in the first round. Game 1 is at 1 p.m. Saturday in Philadelphia (ESPN).

A torn right meniscus rocked Johnson’s first season as an NBA starter in November, as did his trade from Phoenix to Brooklyn in February. He started 41 games after combining to start only 36 times in his first three seasons with the Suns. Johnson averaged 28.5 minutes and 15.5 points per game, both career-highs.

When Sharpe was on the floor this season, he rebounded 19.7% of the Nets’ misses, among the best in the league for players who played at least 500 minutes.

Green scored 13 points and three 3-pointers with four rebounds in Cleveland’s 106–95 home loss to Charlotte. Green played only 22 minutes in Cleveland’s previous 17 games before playing 51 in the Cavaliers’ last two games as they rested regulars.

Green, 35, has 165 games of playoff experience with three NBA titles, but it’s unclear how much playing time he’ll get this postseason.

“Not up to me to decide,” Green told Cleveland.com. “They had been winning before I got here, so I know they had that rotation of guys that were playing well and they earned their minutes and the right to be in the playoffs and in the rotation. So, it’s up to me to earn my minutes and showcase to the coaching staff that I’m able to help and be ready when my number is called.”

The Cavaliers (51–31) are the Eastern Conference’s No. 4 seed and will have home-court advantage in their first-round series against the No. 5-seed New York Knicks. Game 1 is at 6 p.m. Saturday in Cleveland (ESPN).

Cole Anthony sat out Orlando’s final game, a 123–110 loss at Miami, as the Magic (34–47) finished 12th in the Eastern Conference.

After starting in all 65 of his games the previous season, Anthony only started four times this season. His average minutes (31.7 to 25.9) and points (16.3 to 13.0) per game went down, but his shooting from the floor (39.1% to 45.4%) and 3-point-shooting percentages (33.8% to 36.4%) went up.

Pinson’s effort came in a 138–117 home loss to the San Antonio Spurs in the second consecutive game that Dallas sat all of its regulars, including Reggie Bullock. Although the NBA is investigating the Mavericks’ decisions on the final weekend, their 38–44 leaves them with the 10th-best odds of winning the draft lottery at 14%.

Although Bullock played more minutes than the previous season (30.3 per game compared to 28.0) and started more games (55 compared to 37), his scoring average went down from 8.6 to 7.2. Bullock shot better from the floor (40.9%, up from 40.1%) and from 3-point range (38.0%, up from 36.0%).

Walker Kessler and Nassir Little both missed the last week of the season.

Kessler missed the last four Utah Jazz games in concussion protocol and Little was out for the final five Portland Trail Blazers games with a sprained left ankle.

Kessler put up some eye-popping numbers during his rookie season while starting 40 games. He averaged 9.2 points, 8.4 rebounds and 2.3 blocks per game while shooting 72% from the floor. He blocked at least four shots 14 times, rejecting seven four times.

Other than shooting better from 3-point range (36.7% compared to 33.1% the previous season), most of Little’s numbers were down. He started only four times after starting 23 games the previous season, and his averages for minutes played (18.1 compared to 25.9), points (6.6 compared to 9.8) and rebounds (2.6 compared to 5.6) per game all were lower.

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

123–110 Sunday loss at Miami Didn’t play (coach’s decision)
Season statistics — 60 games, 13.0 points, 45.4 FG%, 36.4 3P%, 89.4 FT%, 4.8 rebounds, 3.9 assists
Orlando finished 34–47, tied for 12th in the Eastern Conference, and didn’t qualify for the playoffs or play-in tournament.

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

109–95 Sunday loss at Denver Started; 18 minutes, 17 points, 5–7 FG, 5–7 3FG, 2–2 FT, 1 turnover, 1 foul, +17
Season statistics — 82 games, 15.0 points, 47.3 FG%, 37.4 3FG%, 84.7 FT%, 4.5 rebounds, 1.6 assists
Sacramento finished 48–34, third in the Western Conference
First round of playoffs — No. 3 seed against No. 6-seed Golden State; Game 1 at 8:30 Saturday in Sacramento, ABC

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

138–117 Sunday loss vs. San Antonio Didn’t play
Season statistics 78 games, 7.2 points, 40.9 FG%, 38.0 3P%, 70.3 FT%, 3.6 rebounds, 1.4 assists
Dallas finished 38–44, 11th in the Western Conference and didn’t qualify for the playoffs or the play-in tournament.

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

106–95 Sunday loss vs. Charlotte 25 minutes, 13 points, 5–12 FG, 3–10 3FG, 4 rebounds, 1 assist, 1 block, 3 turnovers, 5 fouls, -12
Season statistics 11 games, 5.5 points, 44.9 FG%, 42.2 3FG%, 1–1 FT, 1.3 rebounds, 0.5 of an assist
Cleveland finished 51–31, fourth in the Western Conference
First round of playoffs — No. 4 seed vs. No. 5 seed New York; Game 1 at 6 p.m. Saturday in Cleveland, ESPN

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

134–105 Sunday loss vs. Philadelphia Didn’t play (rest)
Season statistics — 42 games, 15.5 points, 47.0 FG%, 40.4 3P%, 84.28 FT%, 4.4 rebounds, 1.9 assists
Brooklyn finished 45–37, sixth in the Eastern Conference
First round of playoffs — No. 6 seed vs. No. 3-seed Philadelphia; Game 1 at 1 p.m. Saturday at Philadelphia, ESPN

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

118–114 Saturday win vs. Denver and 128–117 Sunday loss at Los Angeles Lakers Didn’t play (concussion)
Season statistics 74 games, 9.2 points, 72.0 FG%, 1–4 3FG, 51.6 FT%, 8.4 rebounds, 0.9 of an assist, 2.2 blocks
Season over — Utah finished 37–45, 12th in the Western Conference, and didn’t qualify for the playoffs or the play-in tournament.

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

136–125 Saturday loss at Los Angeles Clippers and 157–101 Sunday loss vs. Golden State Didn’t play (left ankle sprain)
Season statistics — 54 games, 6.6 points, 44.2 FG%, 36.7 3P%, 71.7 FT%, 2.6 rebounds, 0.9 of an assist
Portland finished 33–49, 13th in the Western Conference, and didn’t qualify for the playoffs or the play-in tournament.

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

138–117 Sunday loss vs. San Antonio Started; 40 minutes, 23 points, 8–16 FG, 5–10 3FG, 2–2 FT, 13 rebounds, 12 assists, 1 steal, 0 turnovers, 3 fouls, -11
Season statistics — 40 games, 2.4 points, 35.6 FG%, 35.5 3P%, 84.6 FT, 1.6 rebounds, 1.2 assists
Dallas finished 38–44, 11th in the Western Conference, and didn’t qualify for the playoffs or the play-in tournament.

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

134–105 Sunday loss vs. Philadelphia Started; 25 minutes, 5 points, 2–6 FG, 1–1 FT, 10 rebounds, 4 assists, 2 blocks, 3 fouls, -23
Season NBA statistics — 48 games, 4.7 points, 54.4 FG%, 6–11 3FG, 63.6 FT%, 4.2 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
Brooklyn finished 45–37, sixth in the Eastern Conference
First round of playoffs — No. 6 seed vs. No. 3-seed Philadelphia; Game 1 at 1 p.m. Saturday at Philadelphia, ESPN

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

103–81 Sunday win vs. Detroit 15 minutes, 5 points, 2–4 FG, 1–2 3FG, 3 rebounds, 1 assist, 1 turnover, -4
Season statistics 74 games, 9.7 points, 44.3 FG%, 37.2 3P%, 87.1 FT%, 2.9 rebounds, 2.8 assists
Chicago finished 40–42, 10th in the Eastern Conference
Play-in tournament game — 7 p.m. Wednesday at Toronto, ESPN; with win, would play on the road against the loser of Tuesday’s Atlanta at Miami game at 7 p.m. or 7:30 Friday on TNT for the right to earn face No. 1-seed Milwaukee in a first-round series; Game 1 of that series would be in Milwaukee on Sunday

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)

Westchester’s G League 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 28 | 6–8, 220 | Sixth pro season | UNC 2014–27 (3 seasons)

Texas’ 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 @dallasmavs


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