NBA Notes: Suns release ex-No. 2 pick Beasley

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NBA Notes: Suns release ex-No. 2 pick Beasley

PHOENIX -- The Phoenix Suns and Michael Beasley have reached an agreement to terminate the contract of the troubled power forward.

The move on Tuesday will cost the franchise $7 million, a $2 million savings from what Beasley would have been due had he simply been waived. It also represents a significant reduction in what the hit on the team's salary cap would have been.

Beasley was arrested a month ago in suburban Scottsdale on charges of felony marijuana possession and possession of drug paraphernalia. It was the latest in a series of incidents involving the drug that have plagued his NBA career after he was selected as the No. 2 overall draft pick out of Kansas State in 2008 (see full story).

Raptors: Richardson released
TORONTO -- The Toronto Raptors waived swingman Quentin Richardson on Tuesday, less than two months after he was acquired in a trade with the New York Knicks.

The Raptors shipped forward Andrea Bargnani to New York on July 10, receiving Richardson, center Marcus Camby, forward Steve Novak, and three draft picks in the deal.

Waiving Richardson wasn't unexpected, as the 13-year NBA veteran was only part of the July deal because of salary considerations.

Earlier, the Raptors bought out Camby, who went on to sign with the Houston Rockets. Toronto, which opens the pre-season Oct. 7 in Boston, now has 14 players on its roster.

Celtics: Sullinger pleads not guilty to assault
WALTHAM, Mass. -- Boston Celtics forward Jared Sullinger pleaded not guilty Tuesday to domestic violence-related charges after allegedly repeatedly pinning his girlfriend to a bed and the floor.

Bail for Sullinger, 21, was set at $5,000 after his plea on charges including assault and battery and intimidation of a witness.

Later Tuesday, Sullinger released a statement through the Celtics in which he apologized and called the experience "humbling and embarrassing."

"I know that this situation has brought both sorrow and embarrassment to my girlfriend, my family, the Boston Celtics organization, my teammates, and my fans," he said. "To all of you, I apologize from the bottom of my heart" (see full story).

Tired Sixers doomed by mistakes in second of back-to-back games

Tired Sixers doomed by mistakes in second of back-to-back games

BOX SCORE

ATLANTA — It would be easy to suggest that the Sixers were weary.

Especially after they surrendered 37 points in the second quarter, but that wasn’t the only reason they lost, 110-93, to the Hawks on Saturday night (see Instant Replay).

Without Joel Embiid, the Sixers fell for just the third time in 11 games.

They were cooked by their mistakes in Philips Arena, where 21 turnovers led to 17 Atlanta points, and burned by the Hawks’ experience, muscle and bench.

After an even first quarter that ended 25-25, the Hawks did just about whatever they wanted over the next 12 minutes. 

Making 16 of 23 shots in the period, they scored every which way. Quite a few times, an Atlanta player slipped backdoor to the basket, and the Sixers missed several switches. That might be partly attributable to heavy legs, as they beat the Trail Blazers, 93-92, one night earlier, but the Hawks out-schemed the Sixers, too.

“They’re good. They’re veterans,” head coach Brett Brown said. “They’ve been playing together for a while . . . they really are difficult at home.”

That’s true. The Hawks (26-18) have won 11 of 13, and are just a half game behind the Celtics for the No. 3 spot in the East.

Atlanta’s also got a huge edge in experience over the Sixers.

Paul Millsap scored 22 points and the veteran forward added 10 rebounds. Center Dwight Howard complemented him with 13 points and 15 rebounds as the Hawks outrebounded the Sixers, 48-38.

Robert Covington battled on the boards, grabbing 10 rebounds to go with 15 points, but the Sixers’ next two leading rebounders were guards Nik Stauskas and T.J. McConnell with six each. 

Atlanta made just 7 of 20 three-pointers while the Sixers were 12 of 29 from distance. The Hawks, though, outscored the Sixers 42-30 in the paint, many buckets coming on back cuts the Sixers didn’t see coming or couldn’t keep up with.

“I think you could tell the fatigue set in on us, and I just think we failed to get stops,” said point guard T.J. McConnell, who had eight points and a game-high 11 assists. “Really, that’s what it comes down to . . . in a back-to-back sometimes your legs just aren’t there. You could tell, a lot of our shots, they just didn’t fall.”

Other than that second quarter, the Hawks were moderately successful offensively. They averaged 24.3 points in the other three, shooting 42.6 percent in those periods.

Without their usual sharp-shooting from beyond the arc, the Hawks scored at the rim, and converted their 11 rebounds.

They outscored the Sixers 42-30 in the paint, and Atlanta had a massive 14-0 edge in second-chance points. Howard had a lot to do with both problems.

“They do a good job of limiting post touches,” Brown said of the Hawks.   

The Sixers were trying. 

They trailed by 18 late in the third quarter, yet whittled away and pulled within 94-87 when rookie Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot made a pair of free throws with 6:46 left in the game.
 
But their bench got slaughtered, and mistakes mounted. 

Atlanta’s reserves outscored the Sixers' 36-30, outrebounded them 15-9, and worst of all, the Sixers’ subs turned the ball over 10 times – Luwawu-Cabarrot had five – to five for the Hawks.

“I think there was an energy that wasn’t with us tonight,” Brown said. “I think that second group struggled.”

After they cut the deficit to seven, the Sixers missed seven of their next eight and the Hawks practically raced to the finish line as their opponents slowed once and for all.

“Every time we made a run, they just came back and made a run as well,” Covington said. “We did what we could to stop it, but Atlanta’s a good team.”

Instant Replay: Hawks 110, Sixers 93

Instant Replay: Hawks 110, Sixers 93

BOX SCORE

ATLANTA — Without Joel Embiid, the red-hot Sixers couldn't contain the equally hot Hawks in a 110-93 loss in Atlanta Saturday.

Ersan Ilyasova cranked it up again with 21 points, but the Sixers looked like they ran out of gas in the second quarter, when they gave up 37 points to the Hawks and never caught up to take just their third loss in 11 games. 

Atlanta’s beaten them six straight times, and the Hawks did it this time without their usual long ball proficiency. They won for the ninth time in 11 games making a modest 7 of 20 three-pointers. 

Conversely, the Sixers jacked up 29 threes, converting 12 (41.4 percent) as they saw a three-game winning streak snapped.

Robert Covington added 15 points and 10 rebounds, and Paul Millsap paced the Hawks with 22 points and 10 rebounds while center Dwight Howard scored 13 points and grabbed 15 rebounds.

Inside the box score
The Sixers matched Atlanta early, as the teams were tied at 25 after one, but their defense loosened in the second quarter and they never could catch up as Atlanta made a whopping 16 of 23 shots in the period.

Twenty-one turnovers doomed the Sixers, who also failed to help themselves on the boards. Atlanta had a 48-38 rebounding advantage.
   
Not enough juice
After trailing by as many as 18 points late in the third period, the Sixers made a run at Atlanta and pulled to within 94-87 on a pair of free throws by Covington with 6:46 left in the game. From there, however, the Hawks rolled.

In a groove
Ilyasova picked up where he left off Friday, when he scored a season-high 24 points in a 93-92 win over Portland. He led all scorers with 12 points in the first half and made 3 of 6 from three overall to stretch his league-leading streak of making at least one long ball to 39 games. Ilyasova made five treys Friday night.

Embiid’s sore knee
Saturday was a rest day for center Joel Embiid, but it’s unclear whether he’ll be able to play Tuesday against the Clippers. He suffered a contusion to his knee in Friday’s win over Portland.

“Joel will go through more assessments with our medical staff,” Brown said before the game. “I don’t have any more . . . to share. We’ll learn more when we get back to Philly.”

Up next
The Sixers return home to play the Clippers (29-15) Tuesday evening and will follow that with a back-to-back Wednesday in Milwaukee (20-23).