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Pelicans practice report presented by HUB International: Jose Alvarado experiences unique first meeting with Joel Embiid

In just a three-week period since he became a member of Willie Green’s rotation, reserve point guard Jose Alvarado has made quite an impression on New Orleans fans, with the crowd at Smoothie King Center cheering several of his defensive possessions Monday vs. Indiana. It turns out that in even less time, Alvarado made his presence known to Philadelphia All-Star center Joel Embiid. During Tuesday’s matchup in the City of Brotherly Love, the 6-foot Alvarado and the 7-foot Embiid jawed back and forth a few times, resulting in a double-technical foul being whistled against the players.

Alvarado, who is on a minimum contract as a two-way G League player with New Orleans, half-jokingly told Embiid that he was upset with Embiid, because a $2,000 automatic fine from the NBA for a ‘T’ is relatively costly for a player on Alvarado’s deal.

“I said, ‘Man, you know I can’t afford that tech!’ ” Alvarado told Embiid. “But he’s pretty cool. He did a generous thing and actually went out of his way, got in contact with me and he paid the fine for me.”

Later in Tuesday’s game, Alvarado and Embiid wrestled for a loose ball, resulting in Alvarado getting on the floor to grab it and Embiid forcing a jump ball by wrapping his arms around the guard’s right shoulder and waist, forcing the tie-up. Alvarado then craftily opted not to jump for the ensuing tip, knowing he could not outleap Embiid. The strategy helped New Orleans gain possession after Embiid’s tap was deflected away from the 76ers.

“I mean, I knew I wasn’t going to (win) it – he’s a 7-footer,” Alvarado said of the David-and-Goliath jump ball. “So I was trying to do the smart play. That’s exactly what crossed my mind. I knew what I was doing when they said ‘Jump ball.’ I knew I wasn’t going to try to jump for the ball.”

Moments after the buzzer of Philadelphia’s 117-107 victory, the two opponents exchanged friendly words on the Wells Fargo Center hardwood, displaying no hard feelings.

“We talked during the game and it was all love and respect,” Alvarado said of his interactions with Embiid. “(The double-technical) was in the heat of the moment, nothing personal. Two ballplayers going at each other.”

Other notes after Thursday’s practice:

After four-fifths of the New Orleans starting lineup did not play Tuesday in the back-to-back against the Sixers, Devonte’ Graham and Jonas Valanciunas were back practicing with their teammates Thursday, but Brandon Ingram and Josh Hart did not practice.

It’s uncertain what each player’s status will be for Friday’s home game vs. Denver (7 p.m.), with Green saying the Pelicans will monitor them during and after tomorrow’s morning shootaround and go from there. …

New Orleans has registered double-digit steals in 11 of its 47 games this season. Two of those instances have occurred in the last four games (at Boston, at New York).

Green on a major defensive emphasis for New Orleans: “We’re making it a point to be active with our hands and communicating. Our defensive activity has gotten better. We’re trying to get more deflections and we want to play to our strengths. Whenever we can get stops and rebounds, it allows us to get out in transition, play in the open floor, and we’ve had success doing that.”