PHILADELPHIA - By the buzzer, Celtics guard Tony Allen had responded to his coach's challenge.
Following an 80-70 win against Cleveland last Sunday, Celtics coach Doc Rivers challenged Allen to step up his game after he missed 6 of 7 shots. Allen is also overcoming left knee surgery that caused him to miss the last 48 games last season. But in a 113-103 win over the 76ers last night, the 6-foot-4-inch, 213-pounder finished with 8 points on 3-of-6 shooting, 5 rebounds, 2 steals, and 1 block in 16 minutes.
"I really wasn't looking at it as no challenge," Allen said. "I was looking at it as I have to play better to help our team. And Coach is going to coach regardless. That's what he does. He's one of the best coaches I've played for. I took it as a scolding."
Although Allen missed 1 of 4 shots and had two turnovers in the first half, Rivers stuck with him in the second half. In fact, Allen played twice as many minutes (eight) as starting shooting guard Ray Allen in the fourth quarter. The Celtics' bench also accounted for 46 points, including a combined 32 from James Posey and Eddie House.
"Posey was huge, Eddie House," Rivers said. "And the guy I was most proud of was Tony Allen because he had a tough first half with some of his passes. I told my staff that no matter what, I was going to put him in, I was going to stick with him."
Sixers guard Willie Green, who has successfully recovered from knee surgery, has been giving Allen advice and is encouraged by how he is coming along.
"He's doing a great job," Green said. "Any time you injure yourself and have knee surgery as he did, and to be playing as well as he's playing right now, is a plus. He's only going to get better.
"He's only going to feel better and his confidence is going to keep rising. I look for him to have a real good second half of the season as far as physically coming back."
When told of Green's comments before the game, Allen said: "I'm not where I want to be."
Right man for jobConsidering that Ed Stefanski drafted him, it's not a surprise Celtics forward Brian Scalabrine is a fan of the Sixers' new general manager.
The Sixers fired GM and president Billy King Tuesday and replaced him with Stefanski, who had served as the Nets' GM since 2004, and was previously director of scouting.
The Nets drafted Scalabrine out of Southern Cal with the 35th overall pick in the 2001 draft.
"He and [Nets president] Rod [Thorn] drafted me," Scalabrine said. "He really wanted me in New Jersey. You always have a special place in your heart for the guy that gave you an opportunity first.
"I think he's a tremendous guy. He's from Philly. He's really good at evaluating talent from college. Now he has a chance to put it all together."
Miller on block?Sixers veteran point guard Andre Miller was the subject of trade rumors before Stefanski was hired. The Celtics don't seem to be in a position to make a run at the coveted Miller, but the Cavaliers and Heat are rumored to have interest. Miller had a game-high 26 points, 12 assists, and 5 rebounds last night.
"You hear rumors all the time," Miller said. "So, the main thing is just to continue to play basketball. Wherever the chips fall, I hope it's a positive thing. I'll just continue to play hard."