NEW ORLEANS (AP) — Jose Alvarado highlighted a crowd-stirring, career-high 38-point performance with a career-best eight 3-pointers, and the New Orleans Pelicans won their fourth straight game by beating the Denver Nuggets 121-106 on Sunday.
Alvarado, a high-energy fan favorite whose production has far exceeded expectations since he went undrafted out of Georgia Tech in 2021, came off the bench with the Pelicans trailing by 14 in the first quarter and immediately scored eight points during an 11-1 New Orleans run.
And that was just the opening of a performance that had fans serenading him with soccer-crowd-style chants replacing “Ole,” with “Jose.”
Alvarado hit 12 of 19 shots and missed just three of his 11 3-point attempts. He also scored on explosive driving floaters over significantly taller defenders in the lane. When he checked out of the game, the crowd rose to its feet and cheered wildly while Alvarado was hugged by teammates.
Zion Williamson scored 25 points. Jonas Valanciunas added 13 points despite being limited to less than 14 minutes by foul trouble. Willy Hernangomez, who played nearly 20 minutes in place of Valanciunas, responded with 12 points and eight rebounds.
Trey Murphy scored 12 points, including a pair of driving dunks and a 3-pointer from 27 feet away, to help the Pelicans, who were without Brandon Ingram for a fourth straight game, win for the ninth time in 11 games.
Nikola Jokic had 32 points and 16 rebounds for the Nuggets, who’ve lost two straight on the heels of four straight victories. Aaron Gordon scored 19 points and Jamal Murray 18 for Denver.
Jokic had 13 points in the first nine minutes. His end-to-end layup as he was fouled and two free throws shortly after gave Denver an early 30-16 lead.
But about the time Jokic checked out, Alvarado checked in and hit two 3s and a driving layup to help the Pelicans close it to 31-27 by the end of the opening quarter.
Jokic had 21 points and Alvarado 19 by halftime, when Denver led 60-59.
Nuggets: Malone was assessed two late technical fouls and was ejected as he yelled at official Natalie Sago in the final minutes. … Jokic has 15 double-doubles in 20 games played. … Denver finished with 18 bench points.
Pelicans: Shot 42.3% from 3-point range (11 of 26). … Reserves combined to score 62 points, led by Alvarado and Hernangomez. … At 15-8, New Orleans is seven games above .500 for the first time since the 2017-18 season.
Nuggets: Host Dallas on Tuesday.
Pelicans: Host Detroit on Wednesday.