Just when it looked like it might not come this month … or the one after it, with every team they face the rest of 2015 expected to be favored …The Lakers win, the Lakers win, tra la.Oh, sorry, I forgot how to act.The Lakers’ hopes for this season, which seemed to have sailed off the Earth as if it was flat, are back! Newsroom GuidelinesNews TipsContact UsReport an Error The dream, or expectation — in Lakerdom they get confused — was to be good enough to attract a free agent star with the initials KD next summer.Laker reality is dewey youth alongside hoary age, with a schedule that means things will get even worse if they can’t put it together fast.If their veterans were supposed to make up what they lacked, not enough of them are Lou Williams, Brandon Bass or even Metta World Peace.Nick Young is 30, if forever young, not to mention Nick Young, averaging a solid 10.3 off the bench, although ESPN’s Tom Haberstroh figured out that he hasn’t yet assisted on a Kobe Bryant basket.Roy Hibbert is averaging 3.8 blocks in 24 minutes, but he’s a fish out of water.Hibbert’s heyday, which ended last season, came in a Pacers scheme based on packing the lane.The Lakers don’t defend that way or, to date, any way. The 24 minutes he plays suggest — predictably — how far out of water Hibbert is.Then, of course, there’s Bryant. He’s hardly the only one struggling, just the one who’s supposed to make them more than they are.I’ve been a Kobe admirer through thick and thin, but that doesn’t change what’s happening.At 37 after all the injuries and the pounding (No. 3 all-time in minutes counting playoffs behind Kareem Abduk-Jabbar and Karl Malone), Kobe and the Lakers still have ultra-high expectations of themselves, which is how he became who he was and they became what they were.Now whether his timing is merely off, as he says, or his time is over, he’s playing at a subterranean level.He used to be the greatest high-wire act the game ever saw, but bulletproof audacity no longer works for him.I once told him he was the greatest impossible shot-maker ever. Rather than take it as a compliment or an insult, he looked at me blankly. He didn’t consider his shots impossible at all.Now he’s trying to play from behind the arc, with 3-pointers accounting for 49 percent of his shots.Kobe has been brutal on himself, but his insistence that he’s “getting the shots I want,” signals a continuing need to reassess his preferences,Bryant aged gracefully until blowing out his Achilles at 34 and playing 41 games the next two seasons.His Alpha-most instinct drove him to the heights he reached, but denial no longer works the same way.He still has the handle to drive the ball to the hoop and find teammates … but hasn’t, averaging 2.6 assists, compared to his career 4.8 average.It’s not Kobe to think of creating for teammates first. If it’s never him, he’ll have to go back to making shots with a high degree of difficulty or shoot 32 percent, as he is now.As Shakespeare had one of his conspirators in “Juliue Caesar” note, “The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars but in ourselves.”The Lakers’ issues are with their expectations, which will torture them until a return to glory is possible.In the meantime, if their kids are all right, everyone else will have to fend for themselves.Mark Heisler has written an NBA column since 1991 and was honored with the Naismith Hall of Fame’s Curt Gowdy Award in 2006. His column is published Sundays in Los Angeles News Group print editions. Well, they’re are back, at least, until the team plays the Knicks today, as an underdog, as the Lakers were in Brooklyn and figure to be through Jan. 1, with 20 of 28 on the road.Happily for the Lakers, there’s every chance of developing a young nucleus with Jordan Clarkson and Julius Randle looking good and D’Angelo Russell — finally — providing the first glimpse of why they drafted him at No. 2.It was only Russell’s fifth NBA game, but that seemed like a lifetime in Lakerdom with Jahlil Okafor averaging 19.8 points in Philadelphia.(Jahlil’s also averaging 5.6 rebounds and 0.8 blocks, as the Lakers foresaw when they passed on him.)Of course, Lakers being Lakers and their fans being their fans, everyone wanted so much more.