The Celtics shot a blistering 61.4 percent in the first half and built as much as a 23-point lead, then stumbled their way through another disastrous second half that allowed Atlanta to emerge with a 109-105 triumph at Philips Arena.
Boston let Kyle Korver (team-high 24 points) get hot while the Celtics, in standard fashion, went ice cold in the fourth quarter (outscored 29-20 in the frame).
Despite falling behind by 9 with 3:35 to go -- a head-shaking 32-point swing from a late first-half lead -- Boston rallied within 2 with the ball with 23 seconds to play. Jeff Green had a chance to draw a foul after getting his defender in the air, but instead drove and missed a pull-up jumper in the lane.
Green finished with a game-high 25 points, while Jared Sullinger added 22 points (connecting on 4 of 7 3-pointers) to pace the Celtics.
• Everything went right in 1st half: Rajon Rondo handed out 14 assists in 15 minutes of floor time, an aggressive Jeff Green connected on 7-of-8 attempts for 16 points and Boston shot 63.6 percent beyond the 3-point arc while opening a 66-50 lead at halftime. During an on-camera interview, Celtics coach Brad Stevens cautioned that the Hawks would make a second-half run. He didn't know how right he was.
• Rondo Report: Rondo dazzled with his playmaking in the first half, but finished with 2 points (on 1-of-8 shooting) with 19 assists and 12 rebounds over 34:25. He also turned the ball over seven times. His defense eroded in the second half and negated some of his first-half offensive wizardry.
• Loose balls: Tyler Zeller (8 points, 3 rebounds, 2 assists) started his second straight game at center. ... Kelly Olynyk chipped in nine points over 21 minutes off the bench. ... Dwight Powell, Phil Pressey and James Young were healthy DNPs. ... Boston turned the ball over 23 times for 28 points.
• What it means: Desperate for a win having not beaten a team other than the winless Sixers since Nov. 8, the Celtics endured a real stomach punch in Atlanta. Boston falls to 4-11. You'll hear someone in the locker room say, "The good news is we have another game tomorrow." The Detroit Pistons visit TD Garden on Wednesday.