Nostalgia Tour

Monroe sees familiar faces as Pistons trek to Washington, New Orleans

New Orleans native Greg Monroe will play in his hometown as the Pistons face the Hornets tonight.
Allen Einstein/NBAE/Getty Images
When the NBA schedule comes out, players trace their fingers down the list of road games looking for the dates that bring them back to familiar haunts. For Greg Monroe, the NBA dropped him in his two most meaningful cities for consecutive games.

Monroe and the Pistons beat Washington at the Verizon Center, where Georgetown plays its home games, on Wednesday night. On Thursday, the Pistons practiced at McDonough Gymnasium, where he not only spent his practice days during two seasons with the Hoyas but returns in the summer to continue refining his game. And then it was on to New Orleans, where Monroe spent his first 18 years and led Helen Cox High to the 2008 Louisiana state title.

“I’ve got to thank the NBA for this trip,” Monroe said after Friday’s shootaround at New Orleans Arena in preparation for tonight’s game with the Hornets. “Got to see some friends in DC, got all my family down here. So, thank you. Shoutout to the NBA.”

Other than the family connection, Monroe shrugs off any other significance to playing in his hometown.

“It’s nothing different for me, other than the fact I get to go see my family and spend some time with them,” he said. “Other than that, it’s a regular road game for us. We have to come out and do what we need to do to win the game. It is special to come back and see my family and all the people I grew up with and be in a familiar place. There’s no place like home. But at the end of the day, nowadays when I come here during the season it’s all business.”

Lawrence Frank went with Kim English over Khris Middleton off the bench in Wednesday’s win at Washington, he said, because he wanted to see if playing in front of family – English, who grew up in nearby Baltimore, said he had about 15 family members at the game – would give English a boost.

“I’ve seen it both ways,” Frank said. “Sometimes guys play really well in their hometown and sometimes they don’t. They’ve got their family and friends – a little extra incentive.”

“These are the same people I’ve been playing in front of my whole life,” Monroe said. “It’s not like it’s anything different. I’m just going to come out and do what I do every night – do what my team needs me to do to help us win this game. It’s not about who’s in the stands, it’s about playing the same way every night.”

The Pistons will be going for their fourth win in their past five road games, with other recent wins coming at Milwaukee and Charlotte.

“The Washington game, it wasn’t just the fact we won but we made progress in certain areas that we were definitely lacking in since the All-Star break,” Frank said. “In the Charlotte win, we won, (but) we didn’t necessarily get better in certain areas. We did enough to win. I hope we can continue to build on our last game and continue to get better in certain targeted areas that if you do them, you’re going to put yourself in position to win.”

Andre Drummond, three weeks since his back injury was diagnosed, remains out, of course, but New Orleans also might be without its touted rookie big man. Anthony Davis is questionable with a shoulder injury. The Hornets beat the Pistons soundly at The Palace on Feb. 11, but they are coming off a 119-74 thrashing at Oklahoma City’s hands. Davis also missed that game.