Arron Afflalo exudes anguish whenever the Orlando Magic lose a game.

His mouth frowns. His shoulders slump. His eyes squint. In postgame interviews, instead of pointing fingers, he often says he must do a better job, especially late in games. He punctuates sentences with sighs, as if he can't believe he let his teammates down.

"It's tough," he said. "It's almost a childish thing for me. I've been like that since I was a kid. They say in the NBA you play so many games, you have to learn just to forget and move on. But, at the same time, I don't just let things easily roll off that way."

These last few weeks have posed a challenge. The Magic haven't won a game since Dec. 19, and Afflalo hasn't experienced anything quite like the team's current nine-game losing streak.

On Tuesday, Afflalo returned to Pepsi Center, the arena where he played three seasons for the Denver Nuggets. Here, in the Mile High City, he transformed himself from a run-of-the-mill NBA player into one of the league's better shooting guards.

Tonight, he will face the Nuggets for the second time since they sent him to the Magic in the four-team Dwight Howard trade. You'd expect him to want to show Nuggets executives they made a mistake trading him away. But Afflalo said he wants to win more than anything else.

"He's been great for our locker room," Magic coach Jacque Vaughn said.

"His approach every day is great for us, to have young guys see his approach. He cares, and that's extremely important in this league. He cares every single day, not every other week or when things are going well."

Afflalo entered the season wanting to take the next step in his career, to move from an above-average point guard to one of the top players at the position.