For many NBA teams, a 40-point victory would be cause for an obscene amount of self-congratulatory pats on the back. The Detroit Pistons did no such thing after their 117-77 victory over the Phoenix Suns Thursday night.
They simply came together and listened to their elder statesman speak.
The impromptu meeting was called by Corey Maggette at center court. He offered words of encouragement and reminded them to keep up their effort.
With a two-game West Coast road trip standing in front of them, that type of effort will be needed.
The Pistons, who got off to a miserable 0-8 start, are in no position to participate in post-game hysteria anyway. At 5-11, they're still a small fish in a very big pond.
It's going to take more than a blow-out victory against another sub-.500 team to warrant celebrations of any kind.
With that said, the victory was impressive and resulted in their first win streak of the season. Combine that with the on-court pow wow and fans might be witnessing legitimate signs of life.
Head coach Lawrence Frank has been tinkering with the lineup for the past week and finally pulled the right strings by elevating Charlie Villanueva to back-up power forward, making Rodney Stuckey his second point guard and playing Greg Monroe and rookie Andre Drummond together consistently.
Frank's new rotation has put together Detroit's best stretch of basketball this season.
Granted, Villanueva won't go 4-5 from three-point land every night. Opponents aren't going to shoot 34 percent from the field every night like the Suns did either.
It wasn't the Pistons' hot-shooting that was the most encouraging sign though. It was their proficiency sharing the basketball that really stuck out. In fact it was the extra pass to the open man that led to the glut of Piston three pointers.
The numbers clearly show their generous ways. They were already ranked 10th in the NBA in assists per game (21.8), but against Phoenix they racked up 28. In their victory over Portland on Monday they had 26.
This increase indicates improved team play and is evidence that they're hitting their stride. If that kind of ball movement continues, they will be a dangerous team going forward—slow start or not.
With a good mix of young and old, they're a deep team that is finally starting to gel.
One thing that's been missing is leadership though.
That's why the gathering at center court is so encouraging. While the Pistons have been getting better, stocking their cupboards with high draft picks, no one has emerged as a leader.
Tayshaun Prince? Yeah right. He's got a ring—which commands respect—but he lacks the personality for true leadership.
Greg Monroe? Brandon Knight? Not so much.
They're the best players on the team, but at this point in their careers they haven't shown the ability to rally the troops.
Corey Maggette stepped into the leadership role when he brought the team together. He's the oldest player on the team and certainly showed an ability to get everyone's attention and deliver a message.
If his message is a good one, then there's no reason he can't provide the vocal leadership that the Pistons need.
Couple that with their continued unselfish play and the Pistons could be a team on the rise in the Eastern Conference.
A few more double-doubles from Kyle Singler won't hurt either.
* All stats in this article courtesy of ESPN
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