BOSTON -- Maybe the best indicator that Boston Celtics guard Jerryd Bayless was playing well on Friday night came midway through the fourth quarter when Sacramento Kings guard Isaiah Thomas drew a bit of a frustration foul trying to defend a Bayless shot attempt, then stood over him near the 3-point arc, practically begging for the situation to escalate.
Sure enough, Bayless and Thomas exchanged words as the referees scrambled to restore order (heck, even DeMarcus Cousins tried to play peacemaker). Bayless and Thomas were hit with double technicals and Brad Stevens alertly plucked Bayless from the game soon after.
Inside the Sacramento locker room after Boston's 99-89 triumph, Thomas was asked about Bayless.
"I don't like him. End of story," barked Thomas.
Thomas also didn't like Bayless putting up 19 points on 7-of-9 shooting with four assists. Thomas, who posted 24 points, but on far less efficient 9-of-23 shooting, seemed to take umbrage with the way Bayless was reacting to made shots late in Friday's game.
For his part, Bayless downplayed it all, but did acknowledge a connection to Thomas.
"Ironically, we played AAU together," said Bayless, before noting that, "It’s stupid, but it happens."
Bayless provided a nice spark off the bench as the Celtics navigated Friday's game without both starting guards Rajon Rondo and Avery Bradley. Bayless has looked just as comfortable running the second-team offense or providing a scoring threat off the pine.
“He was really good [Friday]," said Brad Stevens. "Shot the ball well, guys found him. Handled the ball, got it to one side of the floor, the ball found him back on the other side of the floor with driving kicks, extra passes. And he’s new. He calls a pretty limited playbook when he’s out on the court as the point guard because he doesn’t know everything inside and out. But he’s another very savvy person. He’s a smart kid, and does a lot of good things on the basketball court on both ends. Again, he’s a good, young guy out there playing very well for us and improving within our system."
Read on for more postgame notes:
THE OTHER MR. TRIPLE DOUBLE?
Gerald Wallace and Rajon Rondo are unlikely to ever be confused for one another. But with Boston's All-Star point guard taking a night off due to general soreness, it was Wallace flirting with what could have been his first career triple-double.
Wallace put up eight points, 12 rebounds and nine assists over 40:19.
"That’s just [Rajon] Rondo with dread[locks]. That’s all," joked Jared Sullinger. "That’s how Gerald has been all year. He’s always playing the dirty guy, doing the dirty work. He did that today."
Wallace, who left the team for a few days last week to return to his native Alabama due to a death in the family, expressed relief about getting back to basketball last week. Even in the locker room after Friday's win, a smiling Wallace joked with rookie Phil Pressey -- his starting backcourt mate on this night -- while the two compared stat lines.
Stevens liked what he got out of Wallace.
"He was great. He came up with big-effort rebounds, came up with steals," said Stevens. "He’s an aggressive guy and I think that aggressive players have a contagious effect. It’s one of the reasons, too, why Chris Johnson adds when he comes into the game, he brings a nice aggression -- he’ll stick his nose in there for balls, he’ll come up with the rebounds... transition basket, a tough finish, those things add up and make your team better. It’s good to see Gerald play like that. It was a really tough week for Gerald last week. He said it, I think I read where he said it’s nice to be back and back in a comfort zone of playing because it was tough week for him. You can kinda see, he’s just excited to be out there."