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Celtics notebook

Rondo can’t afford to be missing person

By Julian Benbow
Globe Staff / June 17, 2010

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LOS ANGELES — Rajon Rondo spent most of Tuesday night worrying about Kendrick Perkins’s knee, from the time Perkins was helped off the floor in the first quarter, to halftime when Rondo rushed to the locker room to see how bad the injury was, to the very end of the 89-67 beating the Celtics took from the Lakers in Game 6.

When they got back to the hotel, Rondo went to Perkins’s room to check on his best friend. But Perkins didn’t want to talk about his knee. He wanted to talk about Rondo’s game.

“He asked me how I was doing; I told him,’’ said Perkins. “Then after that, we got back to the game situation. I told him what I think he needed to do better.’’

Perkins had watched the game, seeing Rondo miss 10 of 15 shots and essentially disappear when the Celtics had a chance to put away Los Angeles.

Rondo, more than anyone, was angry at himself for missing layups and losing the aggressiveness that had fueled the Celtics through most of this playoff run.

“We’re sitting in the room, we talked for like two to three hours,’’ Perkins said. “Sometimes, after a loss like that, a guy just needs to come in and let things off his chest.’’

Rondo was typically nonchalant before practice yesterday, but facing Game 7 tonight, he acknowledged this was the biggest game of his career.

“I put a lot on myself,’’ Rondo said. “I think it depends on me.’’

For the playoffs, Rondo is averaging 15.9 points and 9.3 assists, but in the Finals, those numbers have dipped to 13.5 and 7.2. He acknowledged that after Perkins’s injury, a part of him checked out of the game. He found himself missing layups and other shots that typically go down.

“I missed a lot of shots I usually make,’’ Rondo said. “You can’t control the shots you missed. You’ve got to stay aggressive and attack. I think I had a lot more gaps. I was trying to get my teammates involved, but I’ve got to do a better job of knowing when to take advantage of an opportunity.’’

Perkins didn’t hold back.

“I took the focus off of me,’’ Perkins said. “I just told him I think he needs to be more aggressive. I told him he should have shot 25 shots [Tuesday] night. He wasn’t attacking like he usually does.

“He was sitting there telling me that he missed me on the defensive end and stuff like that. I was telling him, ‘You’ve got to get this win. You can’t worry about if I’m going to be there. You’ve got to worry about getting this win, no matter what it takes.’ ’’

Been there
Doc Rivers has seen his share of Game 7’s as a player and a coach, winner and loser. Of all the variables in the outcome, he said the games always come down to the players.

“It’s the ultimate player’s game,’’ Rivers said. “It’s the game that all the things you’ve worked on all year, you have to do it and execute it and trust and play.’’

The Celtics have a roster full of players with Game 7 experience.

In the past three seasons, the Celtics have beaten Atlanta, Cleveland, and Chicago in seven-game series and lost to Orlando. This will be their first Game 7 of this postseason.

“Most of them, we emerged standing, and that’s the most important part of it,’’ Rivers said. “But listen, it really is the game where the players have to get back to remembering all the things they’ve worked on and then execute it. And you find out a lot about your players in those games, as well.

“That’s one thing we do have, is a lot of guys that have been in these type of games.’’

Motivated man
Wanting to join the players who carved their place in Celtics history by winning multiple championships, Paul Pierce knows tonight could be a defining moment in his career. He welcomes the challenge. “I just love the pressure, truthfully,’’ Pierce said. “I love the fact that I get to play against the Los Angeles Lakers in a Game 7 on the road. I love the fact that if I don’t win multiple championships that I probably won’t be mentioned amongst the other guys in Celtic history that’s done it before. That type of stuff motivates me. That type of stuff, I think, helps me play at my best when I’m put to that type of test. To win another championship would be the best thing that can ever happen.’’ . . . The Celtics will activate Brian Scalabrine for Game 7, using the 6-foot-9-inch forward for defensive purposes. Rivers said he liked the possible matchup between Scalabrine and Lamar Odom because Scalabrine could get under Odom’s skin . . . Even though they were both blowouts, Game 6 Tuesday night got lower TV ratings than the Celtics’ clinching Game 6 win against the Lakers two years ago. Tuesday night’s game drew a 12.3 overnight rating, down 4 percent from the 12.8 for the lopsided clinching victory in 2008.

Gary Washburn of the Globe staff contributed to this report; Julian Benbow can be reached at jbenbow@globe.com.

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