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Monroe bounces back to score 22 on Celtics

The Sports Xchange

The Pistons can count on consistent production from second-year center Greg Monroe. When he has a rare off-night, he takes it out on the next opponent.

Monroe bounced back from a 4-point outing against San Antonio on Tuesday with a 22-point outburst against Boston on Wednesday. He made 11 of 14 field goals in the Pistons' 98-88 upset victory at Boston after going to 2 of 11 against Tim Duncan & Co.

"You have to have a short memory in this league," he said. "You know it's not going to be perfect every night. Everybody has bad nights. It's what you do after those nights. I can't get that game back, so I have to come out and do whatever I can to help my team win."

That kind of mentality has made Monroe the Pistons' franchise player. His scoring average has climbed on a monthly basis since he entered the league last season. He averaged 3.7 ppg in October and November of last season. From there, his average climbed to 6.1 (Dec. 2010), 10.9 (Jan. 2011), 12.4 (Feb. 2011), 13.1 (March-April 2011), 14.8 (Dec. 2011) and 15.8 (Jan. 2012). In eight February games, his average has jumped to 19.3.

What should be scary to the rest of the league is that Coach Lawrence Frank said Monroe has just scratched the surface of his potential.

"There are many, many levels he still has to go," Frank said. "I think he's going to get there because of his commitment, his character and his work ethic. He's been extremely consistent and yet the thing I respect most about Greg and what matters most to him is letters, not numbers. It's winning, not the numbers you put up. That's what is vital for our franchise in terms of getting back on track."

If not for the dynamic athleticism of the Los Angeles Clippers' Blake Griffin or the insanity of the Knicks' Jeremy Lin, Monroe might be the most talked about second-year player in the league. He ranked in the top three in scoring, rebounding, field-goal percentage, free-throw percentage and steals per game among that sophomore group. He's also in the top three among Eastern Conference centers in all those categories.

Monroe now gets an intriguing matchup with one of his peers, Sacramento center DeMarcus Cousins, when the Kings come to The Palace on Friday. Monroe averaged 8.5 points in two games against them last season but they'll see a much-improved player.

"I'm just letting the offense come to me," he said. "When I have big scoring nights, it's because my teammates are getting me easy shots."

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