"What did he say!"

The exclamation from Greg Monroe in March wasn't really a question.

He knew what was said. It was more like a declaration. Think Ali (then Cassius Clay) after he bested Sonny Liston in the classic bout that launched the career of the boxing legend.

Monroe, standing under the basket near the end of the Pistons' 124-112 win over the Sacramento Kings at Power Balance Pavilion, directed his comments toward media row.

Before the game, it came to his attention that a member of the Kings privately derided Monroe's ability to a local writer.

Monroe said he wasn't worried about it. But his play told a different tale.

He destroyed DeMarcus Cousins, a fellow member of the 2010 draft class who was selected two spots before the Pistons picked Monroe at No. 7. The midrange jumper was working, and Monroe was a beast on the glass.

The final stat line for Monroe: 32 points, 11 rebounds and three assists.

Cousins' night: 14 points and seven rebounds before fouling out in 27 minutes.

And there Monroe stood -- making sure the media noticed possibly his best game in two promising seasons with the Pistons.

The night was an example of the damage the 6-foot-11 big man from Georgetown can do when motivated. And after a season that saw him average 15.4 points and 9.7 rebounds, the Pistons organization thinks another slight will motivate him to take that next step to NBA stardom.

"I always tell the guys this: Whatever your motivation is to be great is OK with me," president of basketball operations Joe Dumars said last week. "Whatever your motivation is, as long as you got motivation to continue to be great and strive to be really good in this league, I'm in support of it."