Balanced scoring lifts Pelicans to 111-91 victory at Brooklyn _lowres

The New Orleans Pelicans' Alexis Ajinca, right, sat out Wednesday's game against the San Antonio Spurs with a fractured sternum.

Tom Benson should at least consider changing the team name from the Pelicans to the Patients.

At least for the remainder of this season.

Heck, he can even change the uniforms from tank-top jerseys to hospital gowns.

For good measure, let’s just go ahead and rename it the Smoothie King General Hospital. The team locker room, much like it has all season, looked more like an emergency room before Thursday’s tip-off against the San Antonio Spurs

Bryce Dejean- Jones sat in front of his locker with his right arm heavily bandaged from a wrist injury.

Next to him sat Dante Cunningham, who hyper-extended his knee the night before in a heartbreaking loss to Houston.

Beside him was Eric Gordon, who just returned last week after fracturing his right ring finger.

Across the way sat Alexis Ajinca, his chest heavily wrapped in an ice pack, the results of an elbow to the chest the night before from the Rockets’ Dwight Howard.

Ajinca’s sternum injury is the latest to be bitten by the injury bug that has feasted on these Pelicans all season long. How long he will be out is still uncertain, but it could be quite a while.

“I’ve never seen anything like this,” Gordon said. “I’ve never had a surgery or anything until I got here. It’s the craziest thing I’ve seen.”

Nobody can really explain it.

Perhaps it’s a curse, something Steph Curry put on the team last season when he drained that 3-pointer dagger to break the Pelicans hearts in the playoffs last season.

Alvin Gentry, who was sitting on the Warriors bench that night as an assistant and is now in charge of the Pelicans, has no explanation.

He’s never seen anything like it either.

“Not in the 20 something years I’ve been in the league and not the 11 years I was in college as a coach,” Gentry said. “This is the first. It’s just so many. We get another guy healthy and another guy goes down. It’s been a very frustrating year.”

While Gentry has never seen a team so decimated by injuries, Cunningham said he has. He experienced a similar season during his time playing in Portland.

“I couldn’t even tell you how many guys went down, how many 10-day contracts we had,” Cunningham said. “Even 10-days were going down and couldn’t play. It’s just a part of the game and the sport. It’s what it is.”

Cunningham’s status was uncertain before the game, but he decided to play despite his knee injury.

Good thing he did.

Without him, the Pelicans roster would have been down to just nine players.

But they now are without Ajinca.

For the season, the Pelican players have combined to miss a total of 183 games.

Outside of toothaches and paper cuts, the Pelicans have had almost every injury possible.

Hip contusions. Left shoulder. Back contusion. Concussion. Right foot.

And those are just the injuries that have sidelined Anthony Davis. That doesn’t include an elbow to the face AD took from Tim Duncan in the third quarter Thursday night.

There have also been injuries to calves (Omer Asik), ankles (Norris Cole), knees (Tyreke Evans) and stomach illnesses Ryan Anderson) and pectoral injuries (Kendrick Perkins).

“We literally haven’t had a full roster this year,” Cunningham said. “So it’s definitely been tough. It’s definitely one of the tougher years, just how we’re losing guys. We’re just losing them in and out, back-to-back, out for the season, things like that. We just continually get hit, but that’s the game.”

As the injuries have piled up, so have the losses in a season filled with doom and gloom.

The only thing bright in the Smoothie King Center this season has been the giant new scoreboard.

A giant “get well soon” card would have been a better investment.