February doesn’t bring a lot of treasured basketball, but this TNT-broadcast national game between the Los Angeles Lakers and the Denver Nuggets should be a fun one. For Denver it’s the first of a back-to-back but they haven’t played since Sunday and Los Angeles hasn’t played since Monday. What looked like it could be a deadline with some fireworks for the Lakers may have fizzled, so barring any surprises there shouldn’t be a lot of unavailable players due to trade. That just leaves injuries, and while both teams have starters a little banged up I would be surprised if the stars aren’t ready to go in this one. The Lakers are unveiling their statue of Kobe Bryant, they’re wearing Kobe-designed jerseys, the crowd will be amped and the champs are in town. If there was ever a February game to get up for this is it, so expect a fun one.

The Essentials

Who: Denver Nuggets (35-16) at Los Angeles Lakers (27-25)

When: 8:00 PM MST

Where: Crypto.com Arena, Los Angeles CA

How to watch/listen: Denver Stiffs does not condone piracy….unless it’s the romanticized 18th century type. TNT. Max (that’s streaming HBO for those of you who don’t pay attention to corporations destroying their brands one foolish decision at a time). NBA League pass for those not in the Nuggets market. Altitude Radio 92.5 FM. Say the Lakers acquired you at the deadline for a second-rounder and you’re here to meet everyone and finish the physical.

Rival blog: Silver Screen & Roll

Injury report: NUGGETS: Kentavious Caldwell-Pope – questionable (finger and hamstring), Vlatko Cancar – out (knee), Braxton Key – out (G-League); LAKERS: Anthony Davis – questionable (Achilles and hip), LeBron James – questionable (ankle),  Cam Reddish – out (ankle), Jarred Vanderbilt – out (foot), Gabe Vincent – out (knee).

The Three Things

The thing to watch for: Denver’s Guards vs LA’s

I don’t want to discount the bigs – Anthony Davis had a triple-double against the Hornets, LeBron is LeBron, AG will make waves with his dunks and Jokic is the best player in the league – but guard play could settle this game. KCP’s hamstring is bothering him, and whether or not he plays that will be an issue against Austin Reaves and D’Angelo Russell. Teams have been attacking Jamal Murray any time they think they have a favorable matchup against him, while he’s responded on offense with some pretty great performances. Can Reaves and Russell find ways to get easy buckets and to make Murray miss his? The first one does depend on KCP (as well as what the bench players can do when they get matchups against the LA backcourt). As for slowing Murray? If they can, LA will probably win – but good luck. He tends to shine in Los Angeles.

The thing to remember: It’s Kobe Statue Night

I’m not saying this because Denver fans should care about Kobe – Denver fans have many reasons both on- and off-court to not feel warmly toward Bryant – but because the building will have more energy than usual for a trade deadline game right before the All-Star Break. Normally these games are an absolute chore, and even with the defending champs in town it’s not always easy to get the juice in the building – or on the hardwood. And with the list of injured for this one maybe that will still be a struggle, but I doubt it. Whomever plays for the Lakers is gonna be up for this, and every Nugget grew up watching Kobe as one of the faces of the league. Most February games are a slog – but this one should have some fire to it as the Lakers once again look to get one back for their playoff sweep at the hands of the Nuggets and to get started on their hunt for better seeding as the season rounds the corner to the finish line. Also there’s a statue.

The thing to bet: Jamal Murray over on points (+ anything)

I don’t care what the line is when you bet, take the over. It is Kobe Bryant Statue Night. Mal’s basketball idol was Kobe. He loves to beat the Lakers, and do it in a showy fashion. Unless Denver gets blown out of this game early I fully expect Murray to have 25+ shots and to go out trying to ruin the Lake Show at every opportunity. He’ll take this one personally and is DYING to play the villain. Take. The. Over.