In each of their last four home games, the Celtics have built a huge lead and then watched it fade, point by point, until it disappeared.
All of those games came down to the final minutes, and the Celtics have lost three of them, the latest Tuesday, 92-91, to Atlanta at TD Garden.
They had a chance to win on the game’s final play, but Jordan Crawford missed a fadeaway midrange jumper at the buzzer, capping an awful day for him in which he missed 12 of 15 shots.
The Celtics, who fell to 13-18 on the season, have lost four of their last five.
Atlanta (18-14) was led by Paul Millsap, who had a game-high 34 points and a game-high 15 rebounds. Jeff Teague scored 16 points for the Hawks.
The Celtics led by as much as 18, but there were six lead changes in the final 2:56.
The loss spoiled a career-high 21 points in 24 minutes off the bench for Celtics rookie forward Kelly Olynyk, whose previous high was 16.
Olynyk had struggled since returning from an ankle sprain, averaging just 3.7 points in the six games leading up to Tuesday. He made 8 of 11 shots, including 3 of 5 from 3-point range.
Also critical for the Celtics was another reserve, Kris Humphries, who tied his season high with 18 points.
Avery Bradley struggled, missing 8 of 10 shots. Jared Sullinger was 1 for 6 and twice left the game with a bruised left wrist. The Celtics’ reserves outscored their starters, 56-35.
After missing his first five 3-point attempts, Atlanta guard Kyle Korver made a shot from beyond the arc in the fourth quarter to extend his NBA-record streak to 101 consecutive games with at least one 3-pointer.
Once again, the Celtics jumped out to a huge lead, this time in the second quarter, which they began by outscoring the Hawks, 17-2.
But the Hawks closed the quarter on a 15-2 run and scored the first 6 points of the third quarter to take a 45-44 lead.