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Doc Rivers needs more out of Semih Erden

Doc Rivers [1] admitted after Friday’s escape against the Charlotte Bobcats [2] – without Shaquille O’Neal [3] and Rajon Rondo [4] playing at another level, the Celtics [5] wouldn’t have been too happy.

And rookie Semih Erden would’ve led the list of players feeling pretty miserable.

On a night when the depleted front court needed minutes from their Turkish import, Shaquille O’Neal had to play 35 minutes because Erden – still learning the intricacies of the NBA. Rivers was more than aware that Erden was playing one day after missing practice with a pulled groin.

“Semih, we just needed him more on the floor tonight,” Rivers said. “I just kept telling him, just point, and we’€™ll get you out, and then we’€™ll bring you back in and do whatever we can, but we need you tonight. And they went small and we did a great job of not forcing it to them, but letting it come to them in the flow without taking us out of our flow.”

Rivers would not give the rookie a free pass just because of the injury.

“I don’t ask,” Rivers said. “If a guy’s playing, he’s healthy. Listen, they don’t care on the other team.If you’re going to be out on the floor, I don’t want to hear about it and neither does the other team. That’s how we always function, and our guys know that.”

Rondo fell just four rebounds shy of another triple-double while Shaq scored a game-high 23 points in the Celtics’ 99-94 win over the Bobcats Friday night at TD Garden. The Celtics were very effective from long distance, draining 8-of-19 from beyond the arc.

The Celtics joined the San Antonio Spurs [6] and Miami Heat [7] as 30-game winners, improving to 30-9 on the season and 2-1 on their six-game homestand. They are off until Monday night when they host Dwight Howard [8] and the Orlando Magic [9] in the possible return of Kevin Garnett [10] to the Celtics lineup.

And, if called upon, Rivers hopes Erden does his level best to stay on the court.