Tuesday night, Orlando Magic guard Arron Afflalo will be tasked with defending Kobe Bryant of the Los Angeles Lakers as the teams meet in Orlando, a game more notable for being Dwight Howard's first game at Amway Center since leaving the Magic in August. In a 3-minute, 45-second video on his YouTube channel, Afflalo discussed his respect for Bryant, as well as the challenges that Bryant provides.
When it comes to defending Bryant, "the idea is to make him take tough shots," Afflalo said. He cracks a smile as he continues, "Unfortunately, Kobe's in a situation in L.A. where he needs to take a lot of shots.
"It's gonna be hard to keep him down unless he's just off."
Afflalo knows firsthand what a challenge guarding Bryant can be. The pair have faced off 20 times head-to-head since Afflalo broke into the league in 2006/07, including seven playoff games in 2011/12 as the Lakers defeated Afflalo's Denver Nuggets in the Western Conference Quarterfinals. Bryant averaged 29.1 points per game in that series, guarded mostly by Afflalo, while shooting 44.8 percent from the floor and 35.7 percent from three-point range. Bryant hit a three-pointer over Afflalo to ice that series in Game Seven, putting L.A. up by eight points with less than one minute to play. Meanwhile, Bryant limited Afflalo to single-digit scoring in three of those seven games.
Afflalo got his revenge in this first meeting against Bryant and the Lakers in 2012/13, scoring a career-high 30 points as the Magic prevailed, 113-103. Bryant went off for 34 of his own, however.