ATLANTA (AP) — The Atlanta Hawks owned the fourth quarter again.
Kyle Korver scored 24 points, and the Hawks rallied to beat the struggling Boston Celtics 109-105 on Tuesday night.
Paul Millsap added 19 points for Atlanta, which has won three straight and five of six. Korver went 6 for 7 from 3-point range.
Boston has lost five straight and eight of nine. Jeff Green and Jared Sullinger had 25 points apiece for the Celtics, and Rajon Rondo had a season-high 19 assists.
The Celtics got off to a fast start and led by as many as 23 points in the first half.
“Our second half was better than their first half, I guess,” Korver said.
The Hawks erased much of Boston’s lead with a big third quarter. Then, true to form, Atlanta pulled ahead early in the final period.
The Hawks were averaging 27.5 points in the fourth quarter, best in the NBA, before outscoring the Celtics 29-20 in the closing 12 minutes.
Coach Mike Budenholzer said the strong finishes won’t always make up for poor starts. He was frustrated by his team giving up 42 points in the first period.
“You can’t do this on a regular basis,” Budenholzer said. “You can’t dig a hole and come out of it. I think it speaks to the resiliency of this group, but you can’t keep doing it.”
Green’s three-point play with 49 seconds remaining trimmed Atlanta’s lead to 107-105.
Following a missed jumper by Millsap, Boston called timeout with 23.8 seconds remaining. Green missed a short jumper, and a breakaway layup by Kent Bazemore iced Atlanta’s win.
“I thought clearly they were the aggressor and more physical,” Boston coach Brad Stevens said.
“I have a couple of vivid memories where we were not quick enough to the ball. That’s probably a symbol of our struggles. That’s a part of this recurring theme.”
Boston shot 61 percent from the field and led 66-50 at the break.
The Celtics managed only one field goal — a jam by Green — during a 20-5 Atlanta run in the third quarter that cut the lead to 79-72.
The Hawks continued the comeback in the opening minutes of the final period. A 3-pointer by Bazemore tied it at 85. A three-point play by Dennis Schroder gave Atlanta an 88-85 lead for its first advantage since the opening minutes.
Rondo also had a season-high 12 rebounds. But he committed seven turnovers and was 1 for 8 from the field for two points. He helped the Celtics to a 42-31 advantage on the glass.
KORVER ON D
The 6-foot-7 Korver defended Rondo at times in the second half. “(Rondo) was kind of picking us apart almost like a quarterback,” Budenholzer said. “We just wanted to try a different look … maybe just change the look on Rondo, and his vision and what he was seeing.”
Celtics: Avery Bradley had 18 points. … C Tyler Zeller had eight points in his second straight start as Kelly Olynyk again played in a reserve role. .. G Marcus Smart did not make the trip as he missed his 10th straight game with a sprained left ankle. … Boston’s 66 first-half points were one below its season high against Brooklyn in a 121-105 win to open the season.
Hawks: The Hawks outscored the Celtics 30-19 in the third. Korver had 10 points, including two 3-pointers, in the period. … Korver passed Glen Rice for 16th in made 3-pointers. Korver began the night three behind Rice’s 1,559. … Schroder had 15 points while playing almost as many minutes as starting point guard Jeff Teague, who had nine points and nine assists.
Celtics: Host Detroit on Wednesday.
Hawks: At Miami on Wednesday.