NEW ORLEANS – Thank you, I’ll have another.
Sazerac, Gin Fizz and Hurricane adult beverages were all invented here, but New Orleans Pelicans fans continue to throw virtual Molotov cocktails at the Phoenix Suns in their NBA Playoffs opening round series.
“NOLA man, I love the city,” Pelicans’ guard Jose Alvarado said after New Orleans evened its series with Phoenix at 2-2 with a 118-103 victory late Sunday night in front of a sell-out crowd of 18,962 at the Smoothie King Center. Game 5 will be Tuesday in Phoenix (10 p.m., TNT).
“I love what they do,” said Alvarado, whose name was chanted by fans late in the game as he limited former New Orleans point guard Chris Paul to a season-low four points that equaled his career low for playoff games.
“And then hearing that, it never gets old,” said Alvarado, who ignited the chants when he pickpocketed a frustrated Paul late in the game. “I see it and I hear it, and it’s like, man, it’s crazy. This city got my back, and I got their back and that’s 100 percent.”
The New Orleans win orders up a Game 6 round in New Orleans on Thursday (TBA) regardless of what happens Tuesday. A Game 7 – if necessary – will be in Phoenix on Saturday (TBA).
Pelicans fans also yelled, ‘F-You, Jae Crowder” repeatedly as their team pulled away in the fourth quarter Sunday. Crowder, who scored 11 points but with two turnovers, mixed it up with New Orleans’ center Jaxson Hayes in the second quarter Friday night at the Smoothie King Center. Hayes was ejected – unfairly according to Pelicans’ fans – after a flagrant foul, and Phoenix went on a critical, 16-5 run immediately after that helped in a 114-11 Suns’ win.
“I love New Orleans,” said Pelicans’ first-year coach Willie Green, who played for the then-New Orleans Hornets in the 2010-11 season. “I love the people here. That was amazing. The Jose chant? There was all kind of stuff going on, so hard for me to focus on exactly what they were saying, but I know they’re rooting for us. They’re behind us.”
Green got the Pelicans into the play-in round of the playoffs after a 1-12 start to the season when few were behind him or his team.
“That’s a team that hopefully our city, our community can be proud of to root for,” he said.
Forward Brandon Ingram scored a game-high 30 points and became the first in New Orleans’ NBA history (including the Jazz from 1974-79) to score 30 or more in three straight playoff games.
“They for sure played with more urgency and grit than we did,” said Phoenix coach Monty Williams, a former New Orleans head coach whom Green played under here in 2010-11 and coached under from 2019-21 with the Suns. “I told the guys that. We played hard, but they played much harder. That’s just a fact.”
Phoenix played its second straight game without star guard Devin Booker, who strained a hamstring in a Game 2 loss to the Pelicans in Phoenix last week.
“Obviously, we need Book back,” Williams said. “But that’s not why we lost the game. They played much harder than we did tonight.”
You could hear it.
And if the Pelicans keep winning, Thursday night’s game in New Orleans might not be last call.