PORTLAND – Fans filing into the Portland Expo on Friday night may have been looking to see two members of the Boston Celtics playing for their Maine Red Claws.

But Kris Joseph was not there. He was needed back in Boston — just in case.

Playing against the Portland Trail Blazers, Boston had only 11 players because of Rajon Rondo’s suspension, and two of them were questionable. Forward Jeff Green had a sprained knee, and Chris Wilcox missed the previous game with illness.

Turns out Joseph wasn’t really needed, as both Green and Wilcox played, with Green scoring 19 points in the Celtics’ 96-78 rout.

Joseph did enter at the end of the game, with 4:55 remaining and Boston up 88-67. He went 0 for 3 from the field but recorded his first NBA points with two free throws.

MEANWHILE, FAB MELO, the other Celtic on the Red Claws’ roster, performed well with eight points, 11 rebounds and two blocks.

When the 7-foot, 255-pound Melo is on the court, he changes defenses. In a couple instances Friday night, the Los Angeles D-Fenders appeared to be driving to the basket, only to hurry a shot or pass off to avoid Melo.

SHELVIN MACK is showing why he was a first-round D-League draft pick (fourth overall). He had nine assists Friday. Coach Mike Taylor said the problem in the 97-94 loss was Mack didn’t have the ball in the final key possessions.

“We had some poor decisions with how we managed those possessions,” Taylor said. “We need to get the ball to our point guard and let Shelvin control the play.”

JUSTIN BROWNLEE’S ABSENCE remains a mystery to the Red Claws. Brownlee, 24, could have come back to the team in training camp as an invited returning player. But he apparently did not sign his D-League contract in time. When he did sign it and became available, Maine claimed him on Monday, cutting Raheem Singleton to open a roster spot.

But Brownlee did not report to Portland.

Taylor, who has applauded the chemistry of his current roster, will now look elsewhere to fill the vacancy. “We have moved on,” he said.

SINGLETON IS STILL in Portland, having accepted the role of practice player.

The Claws also invited former Western Kentucky guard Kahill McDonald to practice.

The volunteer position of practice player is certainly not glamorous. But it keeps players close to the game. And if a guard spot opens up

JEREMIAH RIVERS has decided to stay with the Red Claws, even though he is not yet cleared to play. Rivers is still recovering from ankle surgery.

Rivers will continue his rehab in Portland, as well as at his home in Orlando when the Red Claws are on the road.

“Hopefully I can go the first week of January, getting on the court and playing,” Rivers said.

THE SIOUX FALLS SKYFORCE visit the Portland Expo on Sunday for a 1 p.m. game.

The Skyforce (2-0) feature some interesting stories, highlighted by 36-year-old point guard Troy Hudson, trying to make a comeback after his 11-year NBA career ended in 2008. Hudson is averaging 22.5 points.

Two former NBA second-round picks also lead the team. Guard Andrew Goudelock, who played his rookie season last year with the Lakers, was cut in training camp. He is averaging 23.5 points.

Jarvis Varnado, a 6-9 forward, was drafted by the Miami Heat in 2010. He saw the talent Miami was assembling and left to play in Europe the past two seasons. Varnado joined the Heat in training camp this year and was cut. He is averaging 16 points and 11 rebounds.

WHEN MAINE PLAYED Canton in the season opener, the Charge’s 6-8 rookie forward, Kevin Jones, recorded 26 points and 14 rebounds. After he scored 55 points and grabbed 27 rebounds over the next two games, he got a call from the Cleveland Cavaliers.

The Cavs, who cut Jones in training camp, added Jones to their NBA roster. Cleveland then assigned Jones to Canton. So he stays with the same team, but with a hefty pay raise from the $13,000-to-$25,000 D-League scale. The NBA rookie minimum is $473,000.

Staff writer Kevin Thomas can be reached at 791-6411 or:

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Twitter: KevinThomasPPH