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With Kendrick Perkins on the bench, Al Jefferson will start at center tonight. Leon Powe is the backup center.

“At the beginning of the year we practiced small ball, so we’ll just go to that,” said rookie point guard Rajon Rondo. “We really have to pick up the tempo now and play help defense. There’s more pressure on the guards to pick up the intensity and help rebound as well. We can’t just leave it up to the big men. We all have to gang rebound.”

Rondo called tonight’s game against Memphis (4-13) a must-win.

“Yeah definitely,” he said. “It’s a must-win. I think we’re going to have to give it all we got tonight.”

  • Paul Pierce also commented on the team’s injuries before the game:

    “We’re desperate right now,” said Pierce. “We’re down in the big man department. But we can’t use that as an excuse.”

    Pierce said he would even be open to playing some center if called upon.

    “Al Jefferson is going to have to play some center, maybe Leon Powe, maybe Scalabrine, maybe myself,” he said. “We’re going to have to step up. I think we’re going to come out with a lot more fire. Memphis has a lot of young talent, so you can’t look past them. We’re not a team who can look past people.”

  • Tony Allen is in the starting lineup tonight for the Celtics:

    “Tony, like a lot of these guys, is still trying to find his role,” said Pierce. “He’s still trying to find out where he’s going to be in the league. He’s trying to make the most of the opportunity he gets. As time goes along, the more minutes he plays he’s going to get better.”

  • Kendrick Perkins walked into the Celtics locker room before the game wearing a black walking boot and a pinstriped suit. Perkins said he won’t be in uniform for about three weeks, although if he had a choice he would keep playing.

    “I really don’t want to sit out even one game, but it’s doctors’ orders,” said Perkins.

    Celtics coach Doc Rivers said before the game that the plantar fasciitis in Perkins’ foot is so bad that doctors could feel the heat on the bottom of his foot just by touching it.

    “The fact that he was playing was close to amazing,” said Rivers. “He didn’t do any damage by playing, but he (the doctor) was impressed by the pain tolerance.

  • Rivers was asked if the Celtics would seek a center somewhere else:

    “I don’t know the answer to that,” he said. “I would say the whole league is. We’re thinking about trying to get one of our centers healthy. There’s no one out there who’s just going to walk in and help you at that position. If there was someone would have them. I’ve never heard of a team that had 21 feet on the injured list.”

    Rivers said Michael Olowokandi is probably the closest to returning, but that the center’s return is still at least a week away. An original prognosis of 2 to 4 weeks for Olowokandi has now been extended to 3 to 5 weeks.

  • Rivers was less hopeful that Wally Szczerbiak would be able to play on Friday. Rivers based that prognosis on watching Szczerbiak move gingerly around the Celtics practice facility today.
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