By A.Sherrod Blakely
BOSTON The Boston Celtics had the victory over Philadelphia well in hand.
All Philadelphia's Marreese Speights wanted was a bucket during garbage time.
Jeff Green wasn't having it, as he delivered a highlight-worthy block in the closing seconds of Boston's 99-82 win.
Green, who also had eight points and seven rebounds, came into the game with a bit of a defensive chip on his shoulder.
Coach Doc Rivers had said recently that Green needs to pick his game up on the defensive end of the floor, in addition to improving his rebounding numbers.
Consider both missions accomplished on Tuesday.
"It was great," said Rivers, referring to Green's defense. "We got on him a little bit the last couple days about defense and rebounding. I thought he answered tonight."
But Green, the Big East's Defensive Player of the Year in 2007, can't allow Tuesday night's strong performance be a one-night thing.
"For him, it has to be a repetitive act now," Rivers said. "He has to do it next game and the game after that. It has to become a habit."
It's fair to say that Philadelphia's Evan Turner, the No. 2 overall pick in last year's NBA draft, hasn't had the kind of rookie season most envisioned. He has been in and out of the Sixers lineup, still searching for a more defined role.
One of the knocks on Turner has been that he's not aggressive enough.
That wasn't a problem in Tuesday's loss to the Celtics.
Turner, who came into the game averaging 6.9 points per game, had 21 points - just two shy of tying his career-high - off the Sixers' bench.
While Turner hasn't had the kind of impact fans have come to expect from a player taken so high in the draft, coach Doug Collins said it has more to do with Philadelphia's personel than any shortcoming in Turner's game.
"I don't know a lot, but I do know what player's strengths and weaknesses are, and Evan's really, really good when he has the ball in his hands," Collins said. "When we have Jrue Holiday and Lou Williams, and Dre Andre Iguodala, I mean it's hard to have that fourth guy out there with the ball in his hands."
But with Williams (hamstring) out for the rest of the regular season and possibly some of the playoffs, opportunities for Evans to prove himself may be more plentiful in these final regular season games.
"We put the ball in his hands a lot on Tuesday; he attacked, he played great, I was proud of him," Collins said. "When he didn't play it wasn't something he did, and it's not because he wasn't a really good player. Just sometimes you're trying to put it all together and piece it together and it's hard."
It's looking more like that slump of sorts that Ray Allen was in, is now a thing of the past.
For the second straight game, Allen shot the ball extremely well.
In Boston's 99-82 win over Philadelphia, Allen had 13 points on 5-for-7 shooting from the field. That performance came on the heels of a 5-for-6 shooting performance in Boston's win over Detroit on Sunday.
Prior to that, Allen was 26-for-73 from the field (35.6 percent) from the field in Boston's previous seven games.
Rivers has maintained all along that Allen is simply going through one of those shooting funks he goes through every season.
That's why he's not overly concerned with Allen's struggles, nor does he believe that it will have any impact on Allen's confidence in shooting the ball.
"Ray never lost his confidence," Rivers said. "He just couldn't make a shot. You know, Ray is shooting anything leather. He is. He's not going to lose confidence. He's going to struggle like we all struggle at times."