Lakers are hardly inspiring in a 99-92 victory over Wizards


He didn’t give an opening statement as he normally does after a game.

Instead, Lakers Coach Phil Jackson plopped down in his chair, looked at the media assembled before him in the interview room and said:

“Open for questions.”

His team had just seen all but seven points of a 28-point third-quarter lead against the hapless Washington Wizards evaporate, the Lakers sleepwalking to a 99-92 victory Sunday night at Staples Center.

When asked for his assessment of his team’s overall play against a Wizards team that has the fourth - worst record in the NBA, Jackson quickly and decisively lit into his team for its lackluster play after the Lakers opened a 65-37 lead early in the third quarter.

“It was awful,” Jackson said. “It was an awful second half.

“There was no intensity. We didn’t play right... We just didn’t play with a full functioning group of guys.

“ Kobe [Bryant] took one shot [in the second half]. Made his shot [and] that was it. So we weren’t going to come out there and play with the kind of intensity you have to play with.”

Bryant did take just that one shot in the second half. It was a 20-foot jumper that gave him his 24 point s . But because he didn’t shoot again, Bryant remained one point shy of tying Alex English (25,613 points) for 12th on the all-time scoring list.

Bryant played almost 40 minutes. But he left the game with 4:02 remaining and never returned, even though the Wizards kept cutting into the lead.

Pau Gasol had another strong game, scoring 28 points and grabbing 12 rebounds in being the dominant inside force with Andrew Bynum sidelined because of a strained left Achilles’ tendon.

The Lakers won their sixth in a row , but stumbled to the finish line.

“I think they just play at a level they can extend energy at the necessity point,” Jackson said. “If there’s not a sense of urgency, it’s kind of ‘sit back.’”

During the winning streak, the Lakers have played four teams with records under .500 and one at .500. They beat Golden State by three points, Sacramento by seven, Minnesota by eight, Washington by seven and .500 Toronto by two .

The Lakers were outscored, 59-40, by the Wizards in the second half.

“There were some things I talked to the team about playing the right way,” Jackson said. “Seemed like everybody was looking for their type of game they wanted to get accomplished out there.

“Whether it was their shot or whether they wanted a screen-and-roll or whether they wanted the ball in their position, instead of just playing ball and hitting the first guy that was open...

“The offense is real easy to run. Swinging the ball is a simple remedy almost against any defense whether it’s a zone or man-to-man. Just swing the basketball. Change sides of the floor, for Christ ‘s sake.”

The Lakers start an eight-day, five-city trip that begins in San Antonio Wednesday and ends in Atlanta on March 31.

Only one of the teams — New Orleans — is below .500.

“It’s just a late - season malaise,” Jackson said. “It’s part of what players go through. It concerns me because I think by playing a lackadaisical game, they actually expended more energy than they had to instead of just coming out and playing hard and finishing the game off.”