AUBURN HILLS, Mich. — Jason Maxiell has walked into The Palace of Auburn Hills hundreds of times since the Detroit Pistons selected him in the 2005 NBA Draft.
Tuesday morning was different than all the rest.
The Orlando Magic's bus pulled into the arena for its gameday shootaround, and once the players disembarked, they turned right, toward the visitors' locker room.
The Pistons' locker room is in the opposite direction.
"It was strange when I first walked in before the shootaround," Maxiell said. "It's something odd to make that right instead of that left. It was all right. This is my second home, and coming back here is a great feeling as well."
Maxiell spent the first eight seasons of his NBA career with Detroit and played in 523 regular-season games and 35 playoff games for the franchise.
On Tuesday night, coach Jacque Vaughn inserted him into the starting lineup at power forward to give the Magic more size against the Pistons' tall and athletic frontcourt of Josh Smith, Greg Monroe and Andre Drummond.
The game also was Maxiell's first game in Michigan since he signed a free-agent contract with the Magic over the summer.
"I had good times here," Maxiell said. "This is The Palace, and they've got great history here. My first few years here, we had great records."
Maxiell's playing time has diminished since Glen Davis returned in late November from a fractured bone in his left foot, but his teammates believe Maxiell has made a beneficial impact.
"Max is super-positive," second-year big man Kyle O'Quinn said. "He's always willing to give his input. Sometimes you might not like it. Sometimes you love it. But he's always there to give you input, and he's always there. When you don't think anyone's watching, Max is. It helps."
Jameer Nelson and Maxiell have become good friends since Maxiell joined the team.
"When he has the opportunity to play, he plays well," Nelson said. "He's brought toughness. We have a lot of young guys who don't have a lot of experience in certain situations and versus certain guys and in certain arenas. He helps out just with being a mentor and just leading. He leads in his own way."
Maxiell played 14 minutes in the Magic's 103-87 loss, and he finished with just one rebound and one blocked shot in that time.
Other than the loss, he enjoyed the visit.
"It was great to come back," he said. "The fan base is still there."
The temperature outside The Palace hovered at minus-6 degrees Fahrenheit when the Magic arrived at the arena for their shootaround.
"Good thing we play indoors and we'll be home soon," Vaughn said.
Asked if he likes the weather, Vaughn responded, "I don't think it helps or hurts if I complain about it and let it affect my job. So, I'll focus on the environment that I can control, and that's getting ready for the game. And that's what our players should do."
Arron Afflalo said: "It's fine. It's part of the NBA schedule. I've played in cities where it's cold year-round. You get used to it."
In the Pistons' game on Sunday in Dallas, Detroit coach Maurice Cheeks took Drummond off the floor 11 seconds into the third quarter. Cheeks, a former All-Star point guard with the Philadelphia 76ers, was asked Tuesday whether he has spoken with Drummond to patch things up.
"I really am from a different era," Cheeks responded. "I really am. When Billy Cunningham took me out, I just went and sat down. He didn't come and try to patch it up with me. That's all I know."
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