BOSTON — After Jerryd Bayless’ big night in a rare start, Celtics coach Brad Stevens hinted it might become more than a one-game tryout.
Bayless scored a season-high 29 points, and Rajon Rondo added 22 points and 11 assists to help Boston break a five-game losing streak with a 115-104 victory over the slumping Atlanta Hawks on Wednesday.
“I haven’t thought about it since the game ended, but it’s a reasonable question for Saturday (against Indiana),” Stevens said, adding the decision on whether to start Bayless again will depend “on how we feel, what our roster looks like on Saturday, who’s available, all of those things.”
Meanwhile, the coach is hoping Bayless will stay in his groove for a while.
“Well, you want to ride it, that’s for sure, and everybody’s been in those moments where the basket looks bigger than other days,” Stevens said.
Bayless was one of six Boston players who scored in double figures. Rondo’s double-double was his second straight and fifth overall since he returned from a knee injury on Jan. 17.
Jeff Teague had 26 points and DeMarre Carroll scored 24 off the bench for Atlanta, which lost for the 10th time in 11 games.
Back home after an 0-4 West Coast trip, the Celtics had only nine healthy players after a sore toe forced rookie Kelly Olynyk to the bench alongside regular starters Jared Sullinger and Avery Bradley.
No problem, thanks to Bayless.
“The shots are going to come and go, some days or not, depending on the day,” he said. “Tonight they were going well.”
The Hawks were missing five injured players, including starters Al Horford and Paul Millsap.
Atlanta coach Mike Budenholtzer said with four big men hurt, his team is short-handed.
“I think there was a lot of length, a lot of size that we are battling, and I think that when you look at the shot disparity, I think they had 90 shots to our 76, and I think they had 17 more rebounds,” he said. “We had more turnovers, they had more offensive rebounds and all of that just becomes too much to overcome.”
Teague thought being the smaller team really hurt on the defensive end.
“Definitely defending was harder,” he said. “Offensive rebounds – they were going to the glass. They’re a really athletic team and they just pounded the glass on us tonight.”
Kyle Korver had 17 points for the Hawks, including four 3-pointers.
After Stevens decided to start Bayless alongside Rondo and have Gerald Wallace (12 points) come off the bench, Bayless had his best game since being traded to the Celtics on Jan. 6. He had 21 second-half points – including four 3s in the third quarter.
“He had a heck of a night and I don’t think that had much to do with us trying to stay with their bigs or stay with their length,” Budenholtzer said. “It was really more a credit to Jerryd.”
The Hawks hit their first six shots en route to a 13-2 lead just 3:25 into the game, then raced off to a 23-8 advantage before the Celtics rallied behind Rondo’s 11 first-quarter points to close to 27-25.
Boston took a 58-56 halftime lead. Carroll had 17 points for the Hawks, who hit six 3s in the first half – three by Korver – to keep it close.
Teague scored 10 points in the third quarter, and Boston took an 81-79 lead into the final period.
Boston entered the game with the fourth-worst record in the NBA. The Hawks, even with their recent woes, still own the eighth and final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference.