Jose Alvarado boosts energy for Zion Williamson and Pelicans

Jose Alvarado boosts energy for Zion Williamson and Pelicans
Jose Alvarado boosts energy for Zion Williamson and Pelicans

Zion Williamson’s energy levels were off the charts in Jose Alvarado’s fourth appearance in the New Orleans Pelicans’ starting lineup. It was not an unexpected development, as the New Orleans locker room consistently praised Alvarado’s fiery leadership.

Alvarado “changes the temperature of the room, and he does it intentionally”. Those are the words of current Birmighman Squadron head coach TJ Saint, who was an assistant last season. “He makes everything you try to execute on your own attacking side very difficult. He just blows things up and messes up the timing. He just plays fierce. It’s a level above hard. It’s fierce.”

Alvardo’s inclusion in the starting lineup at San Antonio was just one element of a blowout victory on Williamson’s big night. However, Jose deserves more credit for the team’s success this season than his six-foot frame suggests. Larry Nance Jr. gave Alvarado credit for at least a handful of wins and, against Spurs, Alvarado sank the three-point dagger that all but secured the win.

The Pelicans played with urgency early on to finish San Antonio early. New Orleans was consistently pushing the pace even with a 20-point lead in the second quarter. All 12 Pelicans who played had at least one shot, New Orleans had 14-33 three-pointers, and Williamson finished the night with 11 consecutive field goals.

Williamson finished with 32 points, including 30 points through the first three quarters. Zion produced a highlight every quarter and finished a few games with a bicep flex. Jeremy Sochan felt the brunt of Williamson’s weight room work, but the flexing Jose-Zion mirror early in the first quarter showed just how much this team enjoys working with each other.

Williamson flagged after bullying Sochan to earn two extra points in the paint, which gave New Orleans a 37-19 just over 9 minutes before halftime. It was the second time Zion and Jose showed their muscles on the night, with a short half drive from Jose to Zion sandwiched between the two.

The advanced statistics and the eye test both come to the same conclusions. Alvarado’s energy leads to increased communication and a focus on both ends of the court for everyone. Williamson, for example, heard about his defense from critics and made significant improvements in the team’s first two months of regular season action.

“Defensively, I’m starting to find my moves and feel the game and really see the game,” Williamson said. “I was happy with it the last game. This game, it affected my attack.”

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Green said after a 129-110 road win over Gregg Popovich’s San Antonio Spurs: “Every day that (Alvarado) comes in, not only does he work hard, but he uplifts the whole team with his smile, with his honesty . His trash-talking in practice gets everyone going. It’s fun to be there, honestly.

“Defensively, I think we started the game with the right mindset. We held it throughout the game, which is hard to do. And it’s simple, keeping teams out of the paint, challenging shots, bouncing the ball and communicating defensively. So I’m proud of our guys for the way we played defensively tonight. Green responded at the post-match press conference.

Alvarado didn’t have to say much on the Wednesday before Thanksgiving Day. Jose’s presence alone was enough to motivate Williamson for a mid-season road game against a six-win opponent. The chemistry between Zion and Jose brings out the best in both players, which helped the Pelicans navigate their way to a battle for the top spot in the Western Conference.

The undrafted sophomore sensation is also not a one-trick pony with sneaky flights. Alvarado led the attacking spectacle for long stretches and kept his possessions alive for second-chance points.

“It shows he’s a real playmaker,” Williamson said. “He can also be very aggressive. That leaves the defense guessing. Jose can rack up 10 points in a row whether people know it or not.

“It’s such a blessing to train these guys. They are fun to be around. It’s hard to win in the NBA, especially entering this building. The things that I mentioned to them, we have to keep setting the standard of who we want to be and what we want to achieve,” Green said of coach Jose, Zion and the rest of that optimistic group.

The New Orleans Pelicans returned from San Antonio after the win to spend Thanksgiving Day with their families, but will fly out late Thursday night for Friday’s game against Ja Morant’s Memphis Grizzlies. With the right energy, the New Orleans Pelicans will come home with the best record in the Western Conference.

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. Jose Alvarado boost energy Zion Williamson pelicans

. Jose Alvarado boosts energy Zion Williamson Pelicans

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