Credit: Lucy Nicholson / Reuters
Photo Credit: Getty Images
Photo Credit: Getty Images

In just 34 games, the star-studded Lakers have managed to extinguish their fans optimism, all but wiping out an off-season that saw the additions of Dwight Howard and Steve Nash.

Early in the season, we liked to believe it was simply a health issue. When that stopped being a good enough excuse, we pointed our foam finger of disdain at Mike Brown and called it a coaching issue. After Mike D’Antoni got acclimated and Steve Nash returned to the lineup, we reasoned that it must be a chemistry issue. Tack on a few bad losses and some uninspired performances, and once again, we have a coaching issue. Finally, you guessed it… it’s back to being a health issue again.

Instead of being a season of excitement, it’s turned into a season of excuses.

Injuries, coaching changes and chemistry issues aside, this Lakers team still boasts a re-energized Kobe Bryant, who’s having his best season in recent memory. Dwight Howard, even if he’s been barely 80% healthy, has played the majority of the season. Believe it or not, Pau Gasol is still on the roster and has played in 25 of 34 games. And for those that envisioned Steve Nash returning and saving the Lakers from themselves, he’s played in 8 straight now, and the Lakers are somehow just 3-5 in those games.

Just when you want to reach inside your bag of excuses, think about this: On this day in 2006, the Lakers were 18-16, fresh off a win over the Indiana Pacers. That Lakers team (the one we always try to forget) started Smush Parker, Kwame Brown and Chris Mihm.

That’s how quickly things have deteriorated around here, and if you’re not feeling optimistic, not to worry, neither is Steve Nash:

“I think three or four weeks ago, people would have said, ‘Oh, it will get better,’ ” Nash said. “Right now, I definitely don’t think there’s a guarantee it will, so the only remedy is to continue to work hard and give yourself a chance for it to get better.”

He continued:

“I obviously think with time — and that might mean through the summer — we can get better,” Nash said, “but for this season it’s definitely going to be a challenge to turn this around.”

The Lakers trail the Utah Jazz by 2 games for the #10 spot in the West.

Wait.

Yep, I just wrote that.

They’ll get a chance to snap their 4-game skid tonight in San Antonio, where the Spurs are 14-2 this season. If you’re looking for a reason to be hopeful, Pop did bench his starters for a game earlier this year in Miami…

I would say crazier things have happened, but after what I’ve seen from the Lakers this season, that just wouldn’t be true.