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Pelicans guard and New York native Alvarado shines in 102-91 win over Knicks at MSG

New Orleans Pelicans guard Jose Alvarado (15) drives past New York Knicks guard Immanuel...
New Orleans Pelicans guard Jose Alvarado (15) drives past New York Knicks guard Immanuel Quickley during the second half of an NBA basketball game Thursday, Jan. 20, 2022, in New York. The Pelicans won 102-91. (AP Photo/Adam Hunger)(Adam Hunger | AP)
Published: Jan. 21, 2022 at 6:05 AM CST|Updated: Jan. 21, 2022 at 11:34 AM CST
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NEW YORK (AP) — Jose Alvarado felt right at home back in New York, where the Knicks had another rough night in front of their fans.

Alvarado had a big game not far from his Brooklyn home and the New Orleans Pelicans beat the Knicks 102-91 on Thursday night.

“Words can’t really describe how I felt. It is just an amazing feeling,” said Alvarado, who finished with 13 points, four assists, and four steals.

The rookie undrafted point guard out of Georgia Tech has provided a roster suddenly thin at his position with court vision, facilitation, and defensive pressure on opposing backcourts in the bench unit.

As a two-way player, Alvarado has split his time between the franchise’s G-League team, the Birmingham Squadron, and New Orleans. On Thursday night in Madison Square Garden, Pelicans coach Willie Green demonstrated trust and confidence in the young player by leaving him on the floor to finish out the fourth quarter and close out a win for the Pelicans.

“I’m at the Garden, I won, and I’m doing the interview with y’all. And my people are right there... you can’t make that up,” Alvarado said in post-game comments.

Jonas Valanciunas led the Pelicans with 18 points and 10 rebounds. Josh Hart added 17 points, Brandon Ingram and Devonte’ Graham each had 15 and Herbert Jones scored 11.

RJ Barrett and Mitchell Robinson each scored 17 for the Knicks, with Robinson adding 15 rebounds.

New Orleans only led 46-42 at halftime, but opened the second half on a 32-12 run, which culminated with Hart making three free throws with 3:52 left in the third quarter.

The boos, which had been raining down on the Knicks throughout the game, intensified during that stretch.

“It was really like 6 on 5 out there because they were frustrated and missing shots. The crowd was frustrated so they were booing them and giving us fuel,” Hart said. “Usually on the road, the only guys you have are those in our locker room. I’m not saying the fans were on our side, but they weren’t on their side either.”

Alvarado had some on his side, with teammates paying for tickets for his family. Ingram gave his jersey to one of Alvarado’s younger brothers after the game.

“When I saw the fans start coming and people that I know and how much they were showing me love, I felt like it was one of those nights,” Alvarado said.

The Pelicans led 81-57 heading to the fourth and went ahead by a game-high 25 points on Graham’s step-back jumper with 10:37 remaining.

The Knicks’ reserves made it look close. Quentin Grimes’ 3-pointer with 36 seconds left brought the Knicks within nine before Hart’s layup ended the scoring.

The Pelicans led 27-17 after the first quarter. Grimes’ 3-pointer opened the second quarter after the Knicks had gone 0 for 6 from long range in the first.

The Pelicans extended their lead to 33-20 on Alvarado’s bucket early in the second. However, Barrett’s 3-pointer with 2:13 left in the half capped a 17-4 stretch as New York pulled into a 37-all tie.

Jones’ dunk put the Pelicans back in the lead at the half.

The teams combined to shoot 18.5% (5 of 27) from 3-point range in the first half, but the Pelicans shot 50% from the field while the Knicks were an abysmal 34.2% (13 of 38).

Immanuel Quickley scored 14 points, while Grimes and Alec Burks each had 13 for the Knicks.

Leading scorer Julius Randle shot just 1 of 9 from the field and scored four points in New York’s third home loss in four days.

“When things aren’t going our way Julius is going to take a lot of the blame,” coach Tom Thibodeau said. “But, it’s a team game and we have to get out of it as a team. It wasn’t one particular play or incident. Things just weren’t going our way.”

TIP-INS:

Pelicans: Ingram moved within one made field goal of Ryan Anderson for fifth place on the Pelicans’ career list. Ingram now has 1,314, while Anderson made 1,315.

Knicks: Cam Reddish, acquired via trade by New York last week, has yet to make his debut due to a sprained right ankle. … Ryan Arcidiacono, who joined the team in early January, also has yet to play for the team due to a sprained left ankle.

DIDN’T GET ANY BETTER

When the Knicks beat the Pelicans 123-117 in their first meeting of the season on Oct. 30, it represented the high point of New York’s season thus far. The wire-to-wire victory boosted the Knicks’s record to 5-1 and a season-high .833 winning percentage. They lost their next two games and have gone 17-23 since.

FIT TO BE TIED

Entering Thursday’s game, the all-time series between the Knicks and Pelicans was deadlocked at 20-20, while the teams were knotted at 10-10 in both New York and New Orleans.

UP NEXT:

Pelicans: New Orleans hosts Indiana on Monday.

Knicks: New York hosts the Los Angeles Clippers on Sunday

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