ISTANBUL Even in the preseason, the Boston Celtics are not a team that's about moral victories.
But there were plenty of positives they could take away from their 97-91 loss to Turkish power Fenerbahce Ulker on Friday.
None stood out more than Jeff Green, who came off the bench to score 16 points with most coming in the fourth quarter as Boston tried to rally back.
Green's play was impressive when you consider it was the first game he has played in more than a year.
The 6-8 forward underwent season-ending heart surgery after a routine physical showed he had a heart abnormality.
Despite missing all of last season, the C's still gave him a four-year contract this summer worth about 36 million.
And while it may seem a bit high, Green's play on Friday gives Boston hope that such a lofty price tag will ultimately be viewed as a steal along the same lines as the five-year deal Rajon Rondo signed in 2009.
"I was tired," Green said. "But it felt good."
He was very comfortable; played with great speed," said C's coach Doc Rivers. "
While Green's play certainly was a show-stealer, Boston was also pleased with the solid support they got from Jared Sullinger who like Green, had 16 points off the bench.
"He was terrific," said Rivers, who added that he will look for more ways in the future to play Sullinger with the Celtics starters.
Despite playing a relatively strong game, Sullinger spoke about the need for him to get in better shape and continue to grow on the floor and embrace the role he will be called upon to play for Boston.
"I played well, but I can do a lot better," he said. "I'm a little out of shape; just being able to sustain long minutes."
He added, "I just play hard. I'm not always searching for the ball."
But following this loss, the Celtics will seek out ways to cut down on their turnovers.
They finished with 25 for the game.
Rivers said the C's try to keep turnovers to around 14 a night, a number the C's were flirting with by halftime.
But this is the preseason, a time for growth, experimentation and if you're lucky, a player to emerge as a major contributor.
It's still early, but the C's may have found a couple in Green and Sullinger.
Green's play wasn't all that surprising when you consider many of his baskets came on straight-line drives to the basket, something he's adept at doing because of his quickness.
And when you throw in the fact that he's looking more comfortable at both small forward and the power forward position, he gives Boston the kind of versatility that they have envisioned him delivering.
As for Sullinger, a lottery-pick talent who fell to the C's at No. 21 in last June's NBA draft, he continues to play with a chip on his shoulder that bodes well for his future with the Celtics.
But one good game, a preseason one at that, does not make a career.
Both players had their share of miscues that contributed in some fashion to the loss.
But the problems don't override the promise each showed in the C's first game this season.