Building Blocks

Maggette’s postgame mantra: Build off momentum of success
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MEMPHIS – The Pistons have their first winning streak of the season. A modest two-gamer, but a winning streak nonetheless. Pushing it any farther won’t be easy, given that the next step comes on the road against arguably the NBA’s best team of the season’s first month, but Corey Maggette wanted to make sure the Pistons maximized their odds.

That’s what you witnessed, if you were at The Palace on Wednesday and lingered past the final horn of the Pistons’ 40-point win over Phoenix. It was at Maggette’s behest that the Pistons gathered at center court for a group huddle before heading to their locker room.

“I brought the guys to center court because it’s important,” Maggette said. “We have a winning streak. It’s important to see what we did, the things we have accomplished. Now we can build on that. I think it’s important for our team to know that.”

Maggette, a 14-year veteran, came to the Pistons last June intent on shouldering a leadership burden. He’s the longest-tenured NBA player on the roster and, along with Tayshaun Prince, the only 30-something the Pistons employ.

Maggette might be more comfortable vocalizing his leadership than Prince, but he understands the value of Prince’s voice based on his seniority over a decade-plus in Pistons blue. So it was Prince who figuratively cleared his throat and grabbed the team’s attention by way of giving Maggette the floor.

“Tayshaun said, ‘Corey needs to talk,’ and when Tayshaun speaks, guys are going to listen,” Maggette said. “It was just a great opportunity for us to try to build off what we did.”

“We got a great win here at home,” Brandon Knight recalls the message. “Let’s keep going. Let’s try to get the third one in a row and keep building. Every day, keep building.”

In Memphis, the Pistons face a team with an NBA-best 11-2 record, including a 7-1 home mark.

The Grizzlies will challenge the Pistons in an area of vulnerability: defensive rebounding. The Pistons have been good in their wins, posting a defensive rebounding rate above 75 percent, but not as resolute in their losses, posting a rate 10 percentage points lower. In wins over Portland and Phoenix earlier this week, though, both teams managed to hang around for as long as they did on the strength of their offensive rebounding. The Suns grabbed eight in the second quarter alone or their 11-point halftime deficit might have been closer to 20.

“We have to take the warning shot from these last couple of games that we’re going in against a guy who leads the league in second-chance points, Zach Randolph,” Lawrence Frank said. “And it’s not just all bigs, but sometimes small on big, sometimes long rebounds. We’re going to have to do a much better job on the boards and we’re going to have to limit turnovers on the road.”