Lewis: After Saints’ good news, wheels come off for Pelicans _lowres

New Orleans Pelicans forward Anthony Davis rubs his jaw after being hit during play in the second half of an NBA basketball game against the Dallas Mavericks in New Orleans, Wednesday, Jan. 6, 2016. The Mavericks won 100-91. (AP Photo/Max Becherer) ORG XMIT: LAMB130

At least Tom Benson got some good news on the football end of things this week.

Because his basketball team is a train wreck.

Only train wrecks can be fun to watch.

Anyone who sat through the Pelicans’ 100-91 loss to Dallas on Wednesday and wasn’t wearing a vintage Dirk Nowitzki jersey couldn’t have gained much enjoyment watching the low point of a season that unfortunately promises to have several more coming.

The Pels are now 11-23. Through 34 games last season they were 17-17 but went 28-20 thereafter to earn their first playoff berth since 2011.

Playoffstatus.com gives them only a 14 percent chance of doing that this time, down from 30 percent just two weeks ago.

The Pels may be only four games behind Utah for eighth place in the surprisingly weak (at the bottom) Western Conference, but it might as well be four million, especially with four other teams between them and the Jazz.

Every loss thus becomes magnified.

What made the Dallas game particularly so bad? Let Pels’ TV analyst David Wesley tell you:

“No energy,” “Not going for 50/50 balls,” “Standing around, and “Just jacking up shots” were just some of the descriptions Wesley used during the broadcast. And that was just during the stretch from late in the third quarter to midway through the fourth when the Mavericks outscored the Pels 22-6, going from two points down to 14 up and emptying an already half-full Smoothie King Center in the process.

After the game the Pels’ locker room was just as quiet as the SKC.

“I don’t know what to say,” said a clearly chagrined Eric Gordon. “We’re just inconsistent all the way around.

“I just don’t know. I don’t have too many answers.”

What made it even worse was that Mavs were resting Nowitzki plus three other starters after a double-overtime victory against Sacramento the night before.

So the Pels, who just on Saturday had won at Dallas when the Mavs were at full strength and they were without Tyreke Evans, were basically beaten by a bunch of scrubs, such as center JaVale McGee, who was making his first start of the year.

But McGee managed to both outscore and outrebound $16 million Pels starting center Omer Asik (2.8 ppg,4.6 rpg).

It probably wouldn’t have mattered if Mark Cuban had suited up for the visitors with Jerry Jones coming off the bench.

Dallas was the team that wanted it more and played with the heart and hustle to do so.

“We felt like we had enough guys to win the game,” Mavs coach Rick Carlisle said. “That’s because the ones we had fought their butts off.

“These last two games could easily have gone the other way. We’re going to look back as a big moment in our season.”

And that, friends, is why in a season in which they were supposed be on the decline, the Mavericks are six games above .500 and in fifth place in the West.

It’s also why the Pelicans, despite having essentially the same players who scraped their way into the playoffs last season but were expected to make it back again, are in the state they’re in.

“We’re almost halfway through the season and it’s the same old tale,” Gordon said. “We’ve got the talent, but we’re just not getting it done.”

It didn’t have to be that way.

Saturday’s victory had ended a six-game losing streak in Big D and meant the Pels were back were back at playing .500 ball since their injury-fueled 1-11 start.

With Quincy Pondexter finally coming off the injury list and ready to provide a much-needed scoring spark at small forward and the Mavs all but ceding victory, that long-awaited run was possible.

And Wednesday, it wasn’t like the Pels didn’t know the pitfalls of a rare overconfidence situation.

First-year coach Alvin Gentry had warned them, pointing out that the Dallas players would be elevating their games because of their opportunity to play more than normal.

“No one in our locker room thinks this will be an easy game,” he said before the start.

They didn’t play like it though. All were guilty.

On Thursday, Gentry denied that his players are already tuning him out.

“I don’t feel that way at all,” he said. “But it does bother me that we don’t take that (what he says) out on the court and then execute it.

“It’s something we’ve been kind of battling the whole season, and that shouldn’t be the case 34 games into your season. The last thing you should be talking about is effort.”

But it is.

That means serious implications if things keep going the way they are, and not just for the players, some of which would probably welcome a trade at this juncture.

There also has to be accountability, for Gentry, who obviously isn’t pushing the right buttons, the rest of the coaching staff, and for seldom-seen General Manager Dell Demps, who made the decision to fire Monty Williams, hire Gentry and who is responsible for the current roster.

With Sean Payton’s status now squared away, maybe Mickey Loomis will turn his attention to the basketball side of things.

The business end could use some help, too.

Friday’s game against Indiana is being promoted as Super Hero Night.

But how could they ignore that fact that it’s Elvis’ birthday?

Can’t this bunch do anything right?