BOSTON -- Asked about the toughest thing to learn when changing NBA zip codes, Jerryd Bayless smiled and suggested it's the city.
"I’ve been lost a couple times already [in Boston], in the day I’ve been here," Bayless cracked.
Fortunately for the Celtics' new backup combo guard, navigating the playbook hasn't been nearly as daunting as the streets of greater Boston. Bayless, acquired last week in a three-team swap that sent Courtney Lee to Memphis, made his TD Garden debut on Monday and scored 15 of his 17 points in the fourth quarter while sparking a late rally that came up short in a 104-92 loss to the Houston Rockets.
Bayless finished 7-of-13 shooting with four assists, two steals, a rebound and a block over 23:31, almost all of that production coming while playing the final 12 minutes when Boston made a charge despite starting the frame down 19.
Bayless lit the fuse on his fourth quarter with a block/jumper combo that gave Boston a much-needed spark. He mixed perimeter jumpers with floaters in the lane and his 19-foot pull-up jumper with 2:48 to go had Boston within seven, which was as close as the Celtics got.
Bayless admits he's still trying to feel out his teammates and define his own role. But with the team in need of some offense late, he was "trying to pick my spots and a couple shots went in."
Bayless doesn't have an apartment here yet and laughed while noting that -- after five games in a Celtics uniform in five different cities -- he'll finally get his first honest-to-goodness practice with the team on Tuesday.
As for navigating the streets, he's hoping to stick around long enough to eventually ditch the GPS.
Bayless is on his fifth team in six NBA seasons and an expiring contract could have him changing addresses again this summer. But the Celtics like the versatility the 25-year-old former lottery pick brings and will have a chance to keep him around if they deem him a piece of their future.
"I hope I’m able to be here a long time," Bayless said. "I’ve said it since I got traded: I’m looking to find a home and Boston is a wonderful place, a wonderful organization, the history and the tradition behind this place. I would love to be a part of something like that. They’re trying to put something together here and I want to be a part of that. Hopefully, I’m able to do that."
Coach Brad Stevens likes the early return for a player who was thrust right into the fire after being acquired while the Celtics were on a five-game road trip.
"I think he’s doing a good job," Stevens said. "Obviously, it’s hard when you get picked up midstream. He gets off the plane late [Sunday] afternoon and he’s got to find an apartment. He’s got a lot going on, but I think he’s done a pretty good job of transition so far."
Added Stevens: "I think he’s fitting in well. I think that he’s been embraced by our group. We haven’t had any collective success since he’s joined, but the attitudes for the most part have been good and he’s been accepted very well."
So what can Bayless bring that Lee couldn't?
"First of all, I think Courtney is a very good player. I think there's a lot of factors in why decisions are made. Both teams, I think, got very good players. I think Memphis, you’ll see that with Courtney, and Courtney played a great game last night, and played a lot of minutes, and continues to be very efficient and very productive. For us, what Jerryd does different from Courtney is that he can play the 1 some, whereas Courtney was definitely a wing and thrived in catch-and-shoot situations. Could create for himself, but Jerryd can certainly do that and play that 1 position a little bit more if we need him to."
[Related: Celtics hope Bayless is more]
Read on for more notes following Boston's ninth consecutive loss, including Stevens' take on Hack-a-Howard and Kevin McHale on things new (Stevens) and old (the former Boston Garden):
STEVENS NO FAN OF HACK-A-HOWARD, BUT IT WAS WORKING: Brad Stevens thinks the NBA eventually will install a rule to prevent the foul strategy his team employed trying to rally against the Rockets on Monday night. Dwight Howard made 6-of-14 free throws in the fourth quarter of Monday's game (and 10-of-18 overall) as Boston intentionally put him at the charity stripe trying to chip away at a double-digit deficit. "I would probably support a change in that, that wouldn’t allow that, [or] would call it intentional or whatever you want to call it; call it like it would be called in the last two minutes," Stevens said. "But because it’s a rule and, usually if a guy’s making one out of two it makes you think twice. To his credit, he made one almost -- maybe every time up to the foul line. But we were scoring, and so we were getting a plus-one almost, in about 10 or 15 seconds off the clock, for the better part of three or four possessions. And then we went dry, and that’s when the two-minute mark hit anyway and we really couldn’t do it any more. To their credit, too, they left him in, and to his credit, he knocked them in. Knocked one out of two in and just kind of kept that distance what it was.”
McHALE ON STEVENS: Rockets coach Kevin McHale offered high praise for the coaching job turned in thus far by Stevens. "I think he’s done a good job," McHale said. "There’s going to be a learning curve. There’s a big difference. ... What I really remember is playing and having some coaches come in from college and they were just like, ‘Wow. Where’s the practice time?’ And, ‘All these games. The game is so different and it’s managed different.’ It’s vastly different, but I think he’s done a good job. I talked to Danny [Ainge] for a while last summer when he was making his decisions. I think [Brad] is someone that Danny can really talk to. I think they have a good relationship, and I think there are going to be some growing pains. But I think his team plays hard. That’s the thing -- if you get your guys to play hard every night, that’s a sign that he’s doing right if they’re buying in. He’s got a long contract, and I’m sure at some point in that contract, he’ll have the type of team that he wants and that Danny will put together for him that can contend."
McHALE AND THE OLD GARDEN: McHale had some fun with how things have changed in Boston since his playing days at the old Garden. "It’s one of those things where there’s always a special feeling when I come back to Boston," McHale said. "I enjoy it. The players are all saying to me -- these guys were kids -- they say, ‘You played here?’ I say, ‘I didn’t play here. I played in the real Garden.’ I’m not sure what this is called -- TD or John D or John Deere or something Garden. I say, we had an actual Garden. It was just called The Garden."