A fired-up Jose Alvarado scored a basket, then ran back to the defensive end, yelling to a fan in the celebrity-laden crowd in his hometown. Meanwhile, New Orleans teammates Jonas Valanciunas, Jaxson Hayes and Josh Hart overwhelmed New York at the rim, while the Pelicans swarmed the Knicks all game defensively.
A tenacious performance by New Orleans led to a often-dominant victory by the visitors in Madison Square Garden, putting the Pelicans in the win column to close a three-game Atlantic Division road trip. New Orleans went up by 20-plus points in the second half, then held off a late run by New York. The Pelicans tied a season high by scoring 34 points in the paint in the opening half, finishing with 46 points there.
IT WAS OVER WHEN…
New Orleans won a jump ball with 1:50 remaining, already up 99-86 on the scoreboard. The Knicks initially caught a break when referees didn’t see the ball deflect off of Alec Burks’ leg and out of bounds on the baseline, but Herb Jones stepped in to grab the tipped ball and give the Pelicans possession.
PELICANS PLAYER OF THE GAME
As Pelicans TV analyst Antonio Daniels put it on the broadcast, “Jose Alvarado makes you fall in love with his energy.” The Brooklyn-born point guard, who said last week that he had only been to MSG once or twice as a fan, played the best game of his brief NBA career in the Big Apple. Alvarado finished with 13 points, four assists and four steals, changing the game in the Pelicans’ favor by making multiple plays and disrupting the Knicks.
“Jose was fantastic,” Pelicans coach Willie Green said. “From the moment he entered the game, he changed it, with his effort, his physicality, picking up fullcourt, his energy. That led to his ability to spark us on the offensive end as well. We talk about it as a team – the basketball finds energy, and Jose came in and gave us a huge lift off the bench tonight.”
BY THE NUMBERS
50.0: New Orleans shooting percentage from the field. New York shot just 37.7 percent, helping the visitors build a big lead.
10: New Orleans steals on 15 New York turnovers. Alvarado was the quickest player on the floor for many stretches, coming up with four steals and beating the Knicks to 50-50 balls.
11/28: Pelicans three-point shooting. They started cold with only two makes in the first half, but Devonte’ Graham heated up and made four after intermission, along with five teammates connecting once apiece.
REVISITING FANDUEL KEYS TO THE GAME
EASY BASKETS ON ROAD
It was a good thing New Orleans got out in transition and created some easy hoops for the likes of Hart and Herb Jones, because outside shots were not falling for the Pelicans much of the first half. New Orleans led 46-42 at intermission despite struggling from the arc.
SLOW NEW YORK
What a contrast from the first meeting vs. the Knicks, who rang up 123 points in the Smoothie King Center in October. New York scored 17 points in the first quarter Thursday, then only 15 in the third.
MATCHUP TO WATCH
Brandon Ingram was masterful in setting up teammates again, this time netting six assists. He scored 15 points on 4/10 shooting, forcing absolutely nothing on the offensive end. Fellow Duke product RJ Barrett was the only Knicks starting guard or forward to avoid struggling on offense, scoring 17 points on 6/13 shooting.
In addition to purchasing extra tickets in Madison Square Garden for teammate Alvarado, Hart gifted Pelicans radio host/analyst Daniel Sallerson his second victory in Pelicans.com’s season-long Thursday-games-only three-point prediction contest. Hart sank a pair of treys, doubling his season average of 1.0 entering the night. The other picks were (in order of selection): Jones (Jim Eichenhofer), Ingram (Erin Summers) and Valanciunas (fans), all of whom sank one triple Thursday. Season standings: Erin 2, Daniel 2, Jim 0, Fans 0