BOSTON - A day after a 45-point shellacking at the hands of the Chicago Bulls, you didn't expect to see many happy faces in the 76ers' locker room before last night's game against the blistering Boston Celtics.

And there weren't, really, until one topic was brought up. Christmas.

After last night's game, the players are off until Christmas Day. The players could choose to go back to Philadelphia and fly the team charter to Denver on Christmas and attend a 2-hour practice that night, or they could go wherever they wanted and meet up with the team in Denver in time for the 8 p.m. practice.

"Oh, man, I'm headed home to Memphis to see my family," a beaming Thaddeus Young said. "I really haven't seen my mom or dad since we've been going at it in Philly late this summer. My dad's coaching basketball and my mom has been taking care of my grandmom. So we'll get together, eat a lot of food, stay inside and hang out, because it's too cold to go outside. Basically, it will just be a great time with family and some friends and just chill out."

Swingman Jason Kapono will meet up with his wife at their home near San Francisco, then meet with the team in Denver. Rookie Evan Turner said he will be headed back to Chicago, while Jodie Meeks (Georgia) and Marreese Speights (Florida) also are excited to get away from basketball for a couple of days.

"I'll be going back down to Georgia and have fun hanging with the family," Meeks said. "You know, we've all been together working hard since September, so it will be good for us to get away from each other for a couple of days. Then when we get back together in Denver, we know we'll have a lot of hard work to do to win some games."

Guard Lou Williams is itchy for another reason - he and his girlfriend are expecting their first baby, a girl. Already past the due date, Williams' girlfriend's labor will be induced on Monday. It's an event Williams hopes to see, even though the team will be in the midst of a western trip. His girlfriend is in Philadelphia.

"Come Tuesday, I'll be a father," Williams said. "I don't know what that means, it's new territory. This makes the holidays even more special."

Reaction to Brown's exit

News of Larry Brown's leaving the head-coaching position with the Charlotte Bobcats did not go unnoticed by Sixers coach Doug Collins.

"Larry's one of the all-time great coaches," Collins said. "He's won an NBA championship [with Detroit], an NCAA championship [UCLA] and he was a great guard at Carolina.

"He's done it all. He's opened a lot of doors for coaches like myself. Anytime former players stepped in and did well as coaches, it gave other former players a chance to do the same thing.

"I'm happy for him. It didn't end great for him in New York and for him to get a chance to go down to Charlotte, I think that was probably good for him."

Brown, 70, was in his third season with the Bobcats. He has coached 13 different NBA and college teams, including a 6-year stint with the Sixers, from 1997-98 to 2002-03, compiling a 255-205 record.

Boston strangling

After last night's 84-80 win over the Sixers, the Celtics have won 14 in a row. Impressively during that streak, six different players led them in scoring in those games (Ray Allen, Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce, Rajon Rondo, Shaquille O'Neal and Nate Robinson).

Rondo was out last night with a sprained ankle. His place in the lineup was taken by the diminutive (5-7) Robinson.

"They can get scoring from so many people and they share the ball," Collins said. "They are, like, first or second in assists. But they are also, I think, one the best defensive team in the NBA." *