Jose Alvarado erupts for 38 points off the bench in Pelicans’ 121-106 win over Denver
Zion Williamson scores 25 as the Pelicans move into the No. 2 spot in the West
NEW ORLEANS (WVUE) - With a career-high 38 points off the bench, a new chapter was written for the legend of Jose Alvarado, an undrafted point guard out of Georgia Tech a year ago, in the 121-106 Pelicans win over Denver on Sunday (Dec. 4) in front of a home crowd inside of the Smoothie King Center.
The home crowd was on their feet for the fan favorite the moment he checked into the game at 3:06 in the first quarter and they were chanting his name postgame after he fried the Nuggets on both ends of the court.
With the win, New Orleans passed their biggest test yet, knocking off the Western Conference’s No. 2 team to take their place in the standings with an overall record of 15-8. The Pelicans are currently only one win away from matching Phoenix as the “best in the west”. Phoenix will face the 11-11 Dallas Mavs tonight.
At the moment Alvarado first checked into the game, the Nuggets defensively threw every coverage look they had at the Pelicans while holding on to a 30-19 lead. However, Denver didn’t have an answer for Alvarado as he checked into the game and hit back-to-back shots from 3-point range.
“Jose was the guy tonight,” Nuggets forward Bruce Brown said. “He killed us.”
Nuggets coach Mike Malone spoke postgame about how difficult the Pelicans, who have won their last four games, have become to defend. Malone, who was thrown out with 2 technical fouls in the second half, also gave Alvarado his due.
“He played great tonight...38 points,” Malone said. “We didn’t guard him coming into the game and once they got off to that stretch we never adjusted.”
Denver was able to maintain leads for stretches throughout the game until late in the third quarter. Malone only had one answer when he was asked what the difference in the game was.
“When Jose Alvarado came into the game,” Malone said.
‘’I’m happy he had a big night,’’ Pelicans coach Willie Green said. ‘’It’s fun. This is why you watch the game. This is why guys go out and compete and work hard, to have moments like this.’’
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Overshadowed by Alvarado’s surprising outburst, Zion Williamson continued his hot stretch with 25 points, 6 rebounds, 4 assists, 1 block, and 1 steal.
“No one in the NBA can guard Zion Williamson one-on-one...nobody can,” Malone said. “It really does take a 5-man effort and behind that, the challenge with this team is that they are great in transition, they’re great in the paint and they’re also a really good 3-point shooting team. That’s why they’re the hottest team in the West.”
The other X-factor in the win was Trey Murphy III, who was again starting in place of the injured Brandon Ingram. When the Nuggets packed the paint, he was a threat from deep, and when they rotated out to him, Murphy beat them off the dribble, getting two posterizing dunks, one of them in the face of reigning MVP Nikola Jokic.
Jokic, who had his way early in the game, had 32 points and 16 rebounds for Denver.
Alvarado finished his night going 9-for-11 from 3-point range and 12-for-19 from the field.
The Pelicans will host Detroit on Wednesday at 7 p.m. before hosting Phoenix in back-to-back games at the Smoothie King Center.
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