Alvarado inspires Pelicans in fourth quarter in win over Houston

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It was the definition of a Jekyll and Hyde performance.

The New Orleans Pelicans looked very good at times Saturday night against the Houston Rockets.

The New Orleans Pelicans looked very bad at times Saturday night against the Houston Rockets.

In the end, the Pelicans were good when it mattered most in a 119-106 win over hapless Houston.

Jalen Green is a really good player for the Rockets.

The 20-year-old scored 33 points.

It was not enough.

New Orleans, playing radically inconsistent basketball, trailed 98-91.

Then came Jose Alvarado.

Then came steals, points, assists, rebounds and the endless energy he always displays.

As Larry Nance said after the game, Alvarado won the game for the Pelicans, pure and simple.

In the final quarter, Alvarado had eight points, four assists, three steals and two rebounds.

Of course, Nance had a lot to do with the win as well.

Nance came off the bench to score 22 points with nine rebounds.

Clearly, it was the play of both and the entire bench which won this one for New Orleans.

With 11.5 seconds left, after Alvarado got his final steal, he and Kevin Porter Jr. were ejected. Alvarado got the steal and was simply trying to dribble the final seconds out and Porter Jr. kneed and fouled him, down by 11 points with 11.5 seconds left.

It was unnecessary.

It was intentional.

Alvarado understandably responded.

Both players were ejected.

The sequence only illustrated how good and how important Alvarado was to this team on this night and, for that matter, every night.

Alvarado brings more energy to the floor on a regular basis than any player on the team.

I have been saying for a while now that it would be great to see Alvarado on the floor in crunch time. He was on this night and it mattered greatly. Perhaps he is earning the trust of Willie Green to insert him into those situations more frequently moving forward.

Coming off a bad loss to a depleted Portland team to open the 6-game homestand, the Pelicans needed to right the ship against a poor opponent.

The Pelicans got the job done but it was certainly an uneven performance.

New Orleans controlled play in the first half, outscoring Houston 34-26 in the first quarter and expanding the halftime lead to 63-50.

Then came the third quarter.

New Orleans forgot how to pass the ball, forgot how to defend and forgot to play sound basketball.

After leading by 17 points at 81-64, the Pelicans fell apart.

Houston went on a 15-0 run, taking advantage of awful decisions by the Pelicans and the Rockets outscored New Orleans 37-23 to take an 87-86 lead going to the final quarter, setting the stage for the heroics of Alvarado.

Zion Williamson scored 26 points but again, only got nine shots from the field, making eight. Teams are doubling him on a regular basis. He was 10 of 12 from the free throw line.

Brandon Ingram scored 20 points. Alvarado finished with 12 points.

Of continuing concern is the play of CJ McCollum.

Once again, the veteran struggled, making just 3 of 14 field goal attempts and just 1 of 7 from 3-point range in a nine-point performance.

In his last four games, McCollum has now scored just 38 points on 15 of 55 shooting from the field, including just 4 of 24 from 3-point range.

Call it a slump or whatever but whatever it is, it needs to end soon if the Pelicans want to be the team they think they can be and aspire to be.

Houston is now 2-11 on the season. The Rockets turned it over 26 times, an indication of why their record is what it is. Houston stayed in by shooting 50.6 percent from the field.

The Pelicans (7-6) get a couple of nights off, finally, before hosting a very good Memphis team with Ja Morant Tuesday night as the 6-game homestand resumes.

It will take a more consistent effort to beat the Grizzlies.

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Ken Trahan

CEO/Owner

Born and raised in the New Orleans area, CCSE CEO Ken Trahan has been a sports media fixture in the community for nearly four decades. Ken started NewOrleans.com/Sports with Bill Hammack and Don Jones in 2008. In 2011, the site became SportsNOLA.com. On August 1, 2017, Ken helped launch CrescentCitySports.com. Having accumulated national awards/recognition (National Sports Media Association, National Football…

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