ATLANTA Getting out of the rut that has become the 2012-13 season for the Boston Celtics isn't going to be easy.
And maybe the worst setback of them all happened Friday night as Boston blew a ridiculously large lead in losing 123-111 in double overtime to Atlanta.
Boston led by as many as 27 points - 27 points! - only to turn in one of the worst second half showings of the season that allowed Atlanta to get back into the game and eventually pull out the victory.
Josh Smith converted a 3-point play early in the second overtime. Soon after that, Kevin Garnett, who had 24 points, picked up his sixth personal foul trying to grab his own miss.
With Garnett on the bench, Al Horford wasted no time going straight to the rim for a lay-up that put the Hawks ahead 112-107 with 3:21 to play in the second overtime.
There was still plenty of time left, but the C's were an exhausted bunch at this point when you consider they played less than 24 hours earlier while the Hawks were at home, resting up for tonight's game.
Still, that's no excuse for losing this game, not after dominating play with such an authoritative manner only to give it away.
Boston (20-23) has now lost six straight for the first time this season.
The C's haven't gone this long without a win since the 2006-2007 season when they had three separate losing streaks of six games of more, one of which was a franchise-worst 18 straight.
All of Boston's losses have hurt, but it's hard to imagine one stinging more than this one.
Even with such a huge lead, the C's pushed their lead back to double figures (94-84) in the fourth only to see it wiped out when Horford made a pair of free throws to cap off a 14-4 run to tie the game at 98 with one minute to play.
Boston had a chance to regain the lead, only for Garnett to miss what would have been the go-ahead, game-winning lay-up. The C's got yet another chance when Devin Harris lost the ball out of bounds with 29.2 seconds to play after video review by the official overturned the initial call which gave the ball to the Hawks.
Rondo missed a floater in the lane, but was able to get his hands back on the ball and force a jump ball with Kyle Korver who is about five inches taller.
Atlanta got the jump ball with 3.7 seconds to play, and immediately called a time-out.
Josh Smith missed a potential winning lay-up as time expired which led to the first overtime. Boston's Paul Pierce had a chance to win it at the end of the first overtime, but his shot was well short of the rim.