Boston led early in the third quarter before the Hawks exploded for 11 straight points, taking the lead on a Mike Bibby 3-pointer with 9:07 left in the period and never looking back.
Paul Pierce scored nine of his team-high 21 points in the fourth quarter to help the C's crawl within two midway through, but Bibby hit another from the arc to start a 7-3 run. The Green had just one field goal in the last 3:10 as it fell to 14-5 on the road.
Kendrick Perkins had 15 points and 14 rebounds and Rajon Rondo notched 11 points and 10 assists for the Celtics. Jamal Crawford led six Hawks in double figures with 18 points.
Hawks 93, Celtics 85
Philips Arena, Atlanta, Ga.
Jan. 8, 2010
Headliner: One of the streakiest players in the league, Crawford had just four points in the first three quarters, but broke out for 14 in the fourth to first keep the Celtics at bay and then help put them away. He scored the Hawks' first 10 points of the quarter, including a four-point play with 7:13 to go to make it 78-67.
Unsung Hero: Returning from a one-game layoff with a stomach bug, Eddie House gave the C's some nice minutes off the bench. In just over 15 minutes of play, House had seven points, three assists and continued a remarkable stretch without a turnover, now at nearly 140 minutes over the course of seven games.
With Tony Allen out with the same stomach ailment, House's successful return was critical.
Scrub: A couple of his misses came when the shot clock was running down and the Celts needed to put up a shot, but Rasheed Wallace hurt Boston with a 1-for-8 effort from 3-point range. Matched up against a far more athletic and aggressive Josh Smith, Wallace offered up little challenge. He finished with 11 points and three rebounds in 39 minutes, compared to 15 and 11 for Smith.
Turning Point: It seemed innocent enough when Al Horford scored two of his 16 points on a little hook shot early in the third quarter — but it was just the start of a 23-4 Hawks run that left them with a 68-53 lead.
Horford had eight points in the surge, during which Boston shot a shocking 1-of-15 and turned the ball over three times.
Up Next: Boston's three-game road trip ends Sunday at 1:00 p.m. in Toronto, after which there is a quick turnaround before the C's host Atlanta at the TD Garden on Monday night.
The Celts are 2-0 this season against Toronto, including a 103-96 win last weekend in the Garden.