Monthly Archives: mars 2011

Luc, Bucks Keep Kicking

These Bucks won’t go down without a fight.

Luc Richard Mbah a Moute and the Milwaukee Bucks kept their playoff hopes alive north of the border Wednesday night, defeating the Toronto Raptors, 104-98.

With two players returning from injury (Michael Redd and Drew Gooden) the Bucks used a deep rotation to pull out the important victory.

« We’ve got two guys that have come back, and it’s the nature of where we’re at right now, » Bucks’ head coach Scott Skiles said. « Everybody has got to adjust to it. »

No. 12 has known his role for a while now. Since moving back into the starting lineup late in the month of February, after an Ersan Ilyasova concussion, Luc’s offensive game has been developing while his defensive skills remain his foundation.

Sergio Gonzalez of CBS Sports noted that Luc has played 33.2 minutes per game in the month of March and the Prince has consistently provided double-digit scoring. But his analysis also mentioned the most compelling thing about Luc’s game:

« [Mbah a Moute] is a player, who at the very least, is consistent. »

On Wednesday, the Bucks were in need of his spark on defense. So center Andrew Bogut, point-guard Brandon Jennings and reserve Drew Gooden picked up the offensive end while Luc could did what he does best: defend.

No. 12 split his time guarding two Raptors forwards on Wednesday. Starter Amir Johnson ended up with three points and rookie Ed Davis, who came off of the bench, didn’t fare much better, as Hayley Mick of The Globe and Mail wrote:

« After back-to-back career highs in scoring, Raptors rookie Davis had just two points and five rebounds in 25 minutes. »

Though his focus was on defense, Luc Richard, who finished with seven points, also asserted himself on offense early. The Prince scored six points in the first, including a thunderous slam dunk off of a Bogut assist with just over three minutes remaining in the quarter. But after one, Milwaukee trailed by six.

No. 12 took a quick rest to start the second and reentered the game with 10 minutes remaining in the half.  The Bucks were in the midst of an 18-8 run that they used to surge to the lead. At halftime, Milwaukee was in front by three, 52-49.

The teams traded baskets in the third quarter and the Raptors tied the game going into the final period. But the Bucks would not be denied, thanks to some timely threes by Carlos Delfino and a perfect 8-of-8 from the free throw line down the stretch. Meanwhile Luc and the defense locked in, halting any sort of run the Raptors could muster up.

Luc Richard and the Bucks have won seven of their last nine matchups with the Raptors. Milwaukee has also now won three straight against Toronto for the first time since the 2003-2004 season.

But despite Wednesday’s victory, the Bucks failed to pick up ground on the East’s eighth-seed, the Indiana Pacers, who also won, and Milwaukee remains three games back with eight to play.

The Bucks know they will have to close out the season with a long winning streak to have any chance in the postseason chase. In order for that to happen, coach Scott Skiles is looking for consistency and smart decision making out of his group.

« The games have such importance, » Skiles told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. « I’m certainly not going to make every decision perfectly, but I’m basing all my decisions on winning the game that night. [The players] understand that; it’s what we have to do. »

Luc and the Bucks will, perhaps, play their most important game of the year Friday night in Indiana against the Pacers.

« This is probably do or die for us, » Bogut told the Stamford Advocate. « This game is everything for us and probably everything for them, too. »

Point guard Brandon Jennings agreed.

« This might be the biggest game of the season for us, » Jennings said.

In three games against the Pacers this year, Luc is averaging eight points and 7.7 rebounds per game. The Bucks have won two of three.

The Prince will be in for a challenge on Friday, as he’ll have to guard Pacers small-forward Danny Granger for most of the night. Granger is averaging just over 20 points per game this season.

The game tips off at 6 p.m. CST on FSN Wisconsin.


Luc’s Heart and Hustle

Luc Richard Mbah a Moute kept up his efficient scoring on Monday night, but the Bucks were brought down to the wire again in a battle for their playoff lives.

Luc had another impressive night for Milwaukee against the Charlotte Bobcats, in a test of two teams on the outside looking in for the playoffs.

No. 12 spent the night all over the hardwood, gathering rebounds, diving for loose balls, playing impeccable defense and showing off his much-improved offensive repertoire. He finished with 11 points on 4-of-8 shooting, and 3-of-4 from the free-throw line. It was the Prince’s seventh straight double-digit scoring performance.

But it was also an all too familiar sight as, for the second straight game, Milwaukee couldn’t find the firepower in the closing minutes and watched another lead slip away.

After a tight struggle for most of the night, the Bucks pulled ahead late and, with 3:52 left, Carlos Delfino sank a pair of free throws to put Milwaukee ahead 86-80. Unfortunately those would be the last points the Bucks would score.

Bobcats guard Gerald Henderson stole the show, ending the game on a personal 7-0 run, including the go-ahead jumper with 22 seconds left, to drop the Bucks, 87-86.

« Tonight’s game was very similar to maybe 40 games we’ve had, » Milwaukee coach Scott Skiles said. « Where we’ve had an opportunity to kind of seize the game and make basic pro plays, and it’s been a struggle for us. The guys are frustrated by it. »

The loss meant another missed opportunity for Milwaukee, who fell to two games behind the Bobcats and three games behind the eighth-seeded Indiana Pacers in the East playoff race.

There were, however, some strong points to build off for the Bucks and the Prince was right in the middle of them. Along with his 11 points, Luc grabbed six rebounds in his 28 minutes. The entire Milwaukee team stepped up on the glass and dominated the boards, 46-37, as Frank Madden of Brew Hoop noted:

« Milwaukee used their size and hustle to pile up 13 more offensive rebounds than the Bobs, and generally dominated inside with a 48-32 edge in points in the paint. »

Luc got things going early for Milwaukee. With nine minutes remaining in the first quarter, he showed off his knack for picking up offensive boards, grabbing two in one possession. The second of those two, he tipped in for his first basket of the night, tying the game at six.

Moments later, the Prince showed off the hard work he has put in on his offensive game. Luc got a feed from Brandon Jennings and sank a sweet 17-foot jumper to pull the Bucks within one point of the lead.

At the end of the first quarter, Milwaukee trailed by one, 27-26. The game went back and forth in the second and they still trailed by just one, 46-45, going into halftime.

The third quarter belonged to Milwaukee as the Bucks finally broke through to the lead. Jennings scored 13 of his 26 points in the quarter, but No. 12 didn’t disappoint either, as Frank Madden of Brew Hoop writes:

« Jennings and Bogut got little help from their supporting cast, but I’ll single out Luc for his usual hustle on the offensive boards as well as key plays in the third quarter. »

No. 12 tallied seven of his 11 points in the third, including a pair of buckets in the paint. He also drew two fouls down low and went 3-of-4 from the line. Milwaukee built its lead to seven by the end of the quarter and pushed it to nine on the first play of the fourth.

But Luc and the Bucks weren’t able to build off a strong third quarter and surrendered the lead in the final minute of the game.

Though the outlook is much bleaker than it was when they went to Charlotte, the Bucks can still improve their chances at a playoff position when they play the Raptors in Toronto on Wednesday night.

« We’re not out of it yet, » coach Scott Skiles told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. « We’ve got to win the game tomorrow. Obviously we’ve got to win the game on Friday (at Indiana). But that doesn’t do any good if we don’t win the game tomorrow.

« We’ve got to win this game (against the Raptors) and the weekend becomes huge for us then. »

In two games against the Raptors this year, both Bucks wins, Luc has posted an average of nine rebounds.

Wednesday’s game in Toronto tips at 6 p.m. CST and can be seen on FSN Wisconsin.


Bucks Earn Weekend Split

The Milwaukee Bucks starting lineup contains five difference makers that make Milwaukee capable of winning any game.

When those five players are rolling, as they were this weekend, the Bucks are a difficult team to beat.

Luc Richard Mbah a Moute scored double digits for the fifth and sixth consecutive games as Milwaukee split a pair of games this weekend. The Bucks played strong in both games, dropping the New York Knicks on Friday before falling to the Chicago Bulls on Saturday.

Jeremy Schmidt of Bucksketball wrote of Luc’s impressive streak:

Mbah a Moute has run off six consecutive double digit scoring games, the longest such streak of his career.  Given that the Bucks virtually never run a play for him, this has been a pretty spectacular run for the Bucks power forward.  It should come as no surprise that Mbah a Moute has averaged 2.5 offensive rebounds per game over this stretch, and capitalized on the majority of those opportunities with scores.

Just as they did last Sunday, the Bucks jumped all over the Knicks in the first half on Friday, surging out to a 25-13 lead in the first eight minutes of the game. Luc got four of his 12 points during that run, with some help from center Andrew Bogut, as Frank Madden of Brew Hoop noted.

« [Bogut] worked nicely down low with Mbah a Moute, making a pair of terrific passes in close quarters to get the Cameroonian two easy layups. »

Luc continued to make it look easy in the second quarter with two more buckets, including another dish from Bogut and an alley oop from Carlos Delfino. But a 4-0 run from New York helped them close to within seven at the half.

Milwaukee wouldn’t let its lead slip away, hanging even with the Knicks in the third and then holding them to just 19 in the fourth on the way to the victory.

Luc finished 5-of-9 from the field for his 12 points and added four rebounds, a block and an assist. As a group Milwaukee dished out 21 assists, well above their season average, which ranks last in the NBA.

« We got off to a good start, shot the ball well and played pretty good defense, » said Bucks coach Scott Skiles said. « Our ball movement was as good as it’s been all season in the first five or six minutes. We found the open guy and that opened us up.

« In the games where we’ve done that, we’ve generally played pretty well the rest of the game, and we were able to tonight. Everybody contributed. Everybody that stepped on the floor did a nice job for us. »

One night later, back at home, the Bucks found themselves in a very similar position.

They’d executed their game plan to perfection and led the East-leading Chicago Bulls by as many as 15, midway through the third quarter. But by the end of the third, Chicago cut that lead to just five.

Five minutes into the fourth quarter, the Bulls tied the game at 76. Luc ended their run with a layup to pull Milwaukee ahead by two and the Bucks would push their lead to four three times over the next two minutes.

But after a pair of Carlos Delfino free throws gave the Bucks an 87-83 lead with less than three minutes to go, Chicago closed the game on a 12-0 run, grabbing their first lead of the night and surging to the win.

« They made that run and we never recovered from that, » Luc said. « Both teams were playing pretty good defense. Every time you let a team like that get away by that much in a tight game like this, it’s tough. »

Chicago MVP candidate Derrick Rose scored 10 of their final 12 points, taking the game over in the late stages to put the Bucks away:

« We had a pretty good defensive game and they shot 50%, » coach Scott Skiles said. »And then it wasn’t so much bad defense as just a great player took over the game. He’s got speed; he’s got power. He’s got a great handle and he’s added a jump shot. »

Luc Richard finished with 10 points, eight rebounds, two assists and a steal, despite being in foul trouble for much of the game.

« I’ve got to do a better job of not fouling, » he said.

In four games against the Bulls this season, Luc averaged 11.5 points per game, adding 8.3 rebounds and just under two steals. With just two games remaining in the month of March, Luc is averaging 10.5 points per game–his highest monthly total of the season.

Despite Saturday’s defeat, the effort Luc Richard and his Milwaukee teammates are displaying in the final stretch of the regular season is unmistakable. The Bucks played tremendous defense throughout the game, but were unable to stop Rose and the Bulls when it mattered the most.

« Games like this are definitely going to come back and haunt us, » the Prince said. « But we’re still right there. We have to go on the road now and try to steal a few, see what happens. »

The loss dropped the Bucks back to two games behind the eighth-seeded Indiana Pacers in the standings, but they are just one game back in the loss column.

The Bucks have a chance to make up ground with four games in the next six days and will play at the Charlotte Bobcats and Toronto Raptors on Monday and Wednesday respectively.

Milwaukee is 4-0 against the Bobcats and Raptors this season.

« If we are going to have a chance to make the playoffs, we have to go out there and leave it all out, » Luc Richard said. « We can do it. The teams we are playing are teams that are right there with us or below us, so we’ve just got to try to get it. »

Luc is averaging 10.5 points per game and 9.5 rebounds against the Bobcats in two meetings during the year.

Tip-off in Charlotte is set for 6 p.m. CST and the game can be seen on FSN Wisconsin.


Bear Down Time for Bucks

The Milwaukee Bucks enter the homestretch of their season in need of one last spark to get them across the finish line.

Luc Richard Mbah a Moute looks like he may be able to provide it.

Along with his usual strong defense, Luc posted his fourth straight strong game on the offensive end on Wednesday night. His contributions nearly pushed the Bucks to a third straight win. But, after a strong first half, they let their lead slip away late in a 97-90 loss to Sacramento.

No. 12 scored 11 points on just six shots, hitting 4-of-6  from the floor. He’s scored in double digits in each of Milwaukee’s last four games. Over those four games he is averaging 13.8 points per game and shooting at a 52.7 percent clip from the field.

Going into the last week, the Prince had scored double digits just 14 times. That’s because Luc had been averaging 4-5 shots per game for the season. But since the Bucks moved back to the lineup that they used throughout last season’s playoff run, No. 12 has been getting the ball more and scoring in bunches. He averaged nine attempts per game over the last week.

They’ll need him to continue that strong and aggressive play if they’re to make another such run this season. With just 12 games remaining, the Bucks face an uphill battle. They currently sit in the ninth position, but are three games behind the Indiana Pacers for the eighth and final playoff spot in the East.

The road to get in won’t be easy either as the Bucks start their 12 game trek to the finish line tonight in New York against the playoff-bound Knicks. They’ll then quickly fly back home and host the East-leading Chicago Bulls on Saturday night.

« These are two games we’ve got to win just to stay in the playoff hunt. I think when we play teams that are higher than us, we show up better,” Luc’s teammate Brandon Jennings said « When you know you’re playing against the Knicks and Chicago Bulls, you kind of get up for those games. »

Of their final 10 after that, the Bucks do play five teams that are currently below them in the Eastern Conference. They also play the team directly above them, the Pacers, one more time. But their other four games are against teams locked into the playoffs. Milwaukee also plays seven of its final 10 games on the road where they haven’t had success this season (9-24). But Luc and the Bucks aren’t ready to concede anything.

« All the games are the same, » Bucks coach Scott Skiles said after Wednesday’s loss. « That’s why you play 82 of them. We’ve been in desperate straits for a long time now. That’s what we wanted to see tonight was a desperate team. We wanted to play a desperate game out there and unfortunately we didn’t do it. »

The Bucks and Knicks tip-off from Madison Square Garden in New York City tonight at 6 p.m. CST and the game can be heard on 620 AM WTMJ.

« We’ve got to show up, » Skiles told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel of facing the Knicks for the second time in six days following Milwaukee’s 100-95 victory over New York on Sunday. « We’ve got to play hard; we’ve got to execute and know what we’re doing. That’s all just to have a chance, we’ve got to do those things. »

Saturday’s home game with the Bulls begins at 7:30 p.m. CST on FSN Wisconsin.


Luc Comes Up Large

After an overtime loss in a winnable game against the Orlando Magic last Thursday, Luc Richard Mbah a Moute said it was do or die time for the Milwaukee Bucks.

« This is a game we really wanted to have to start this (four-game) homestand, » he said after the four-point loss to Orlando. « We got to come out on Friday with the same intensity, if not better. We definitely need to have these next three games if we still want to be in the running for the eighth spot. »

This weekend, thanks to big contributions from Luc, the Bucks got two thirds of the way there.

Milwaukee picked up the offense over the weekend, totaling 210 points in a Friday win over the New Jersey Nets (110-95) and a Sunday win over the New York Knicks (100-95). No. 12 poured in double digit points in both wins, including a season-high 19 to help beat the Knicks.

After their victory over of New Jersey on Friday, the Bucks came out fired up on Sunday and outscored the Knicks 32-9 in the first quarter. The Prince matched the Knicks on the scoreboard in the first, tallying nine points himself.

« It was our energy and intensity, » Luc Richard told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. « We knew how important this game was to us…. pushing for that eight spot. We needed to win this game and I think everyone understood that. »

In the second quarter, New York nearly evened the score, cutting the 23-point lead down to four late in the frame. But Luc stepped to the line and knocked down two free throws with 1:09 left in the half to put Milwaukee up by six going into halftime.

The Knicks continued to fight in the third, but the Bucks maintained a lead of at least three for the first 11 minutes of the quarter. Then, with 26.9 seconds to go in the third, Carmelo Anthony hit a three to cut Milwaukee’s lead to just one. But Luc answered with a hook shot off a Brandon Jennings feed with 2.4 to go. It was No. 12’s final field goal of the night and it put the Bucks up by three heading into the fourth.

Milwaukee finished the game strong, never letting the Knicks climb within less than two and the Bucks hit their free throws down the stretch to seal it. Among those free throws were two more from Luc Richard, who ended the game a perfect 13-of-13 from the line in the victory.

Luc said his success at the line was a product of aggressive play on offense to drive and subsequently draw fouls, as well as some extra practice on his stroke, as the Journal Sentinel’s Charles F. Gardner reported:

Luc Richard Mbah a Moute said he spent some extra time shooting free throws at practice Saturday. It paid off as he went 13 for 13 at the line while setting career bests in attempts and made free throws. He tied a season high with 19 points.

« I was trying to make things happen, be aggressive, » Mbah a Moute said. « I felt pretty comfortable yesterday leaving the gym. »

Mbah a Moute said he tried to get a rhythm with his free throw stroke and shot 30 or so during practice.

Luc also came up big on the defensive end, where he harassed Carmelo Anthony and Amar’e Stoudemire all afternoon. His assignment late in the game was Anthony, who proceeded to hit a three with 17.4 ticks to go, pulling New York within three. But when Anthony went back to the same spot to try and do it again five seconds later, the Prince wouldn’t have it.

« It was a good play because I thought he was coming from the baseline, but he curled and came from the top. He really got right there in the corner. If I even came close I was going to foul, » Luc Richard told the Journal Sentinel referring to the first three.

« The second one I knew the ball was going to him. I wanted to be right there so he couldn’t get the shot off. He didn’t get a good look at it, so that was good. »

Luc also added eight rebounds, three blocks and three steals to the cause in the victory. Alex Boeder of Brew Hoop was once again impressed by the all-around performance of the Prince:

« Luc Mbah a MouteThe Prince hassled Amare Stoudemire into a contested 14-foot brick of a jumpshot on New York’s first offensive possession of the game, foredooming Stoudemire’s wayward 11-28 shooting night. Mbah a Moute literally had a hand in stopping all three of New York’s relevant offensive players. He frustrated Stoudemire, blocked Billups, and breathed all over Anthony. Mbah a Moute also chipped in with an atypical offensive performance — notably making 13-13 at the free-throw line…Mbah a Moute actually has a quick first step off the dribble, and he is the Buck most prone to make a strong (if not always fruitful) drive to the basket in the halfcourt — now that Maggette no longer plays. In a team-high 45 minutes, Mbah a Moute racked up 19/8/1 along with three steals and three blocks. Brilliant. »

The driving force behind the two weekend wins wasn’t just Luc, but the entire Bucks starting five.

In their win over New Jersey on Friday, the Bucks starters all finished in double figures on the scoreboard, tallying 95 of Milwaukee’s 110 points. On Sunday, the offense was even more starter-centric with just two of the Bucks’ 100 points coming from the bench. Boeder explains why what he calls the Bucks « symphonic quintet » of Luc, Andrew Bogut, Brandon Jennings, Carlos Delfino and John Salmons, is thriving.

« They are not the group the started the season starting. But they are the ones that started most of last season. And they are clicking like a group that has played an hour or two of winning hoops together. Of the 21 starting lineup combinations that the Bucks have tried this season, this is the most common one. But this marked just their 11th start together. They are now a modest 6-5 after two straight impressive ones. Nothing overwhelming, but these five are nothing even resembling the 22-36 record of all of the other starting fives. »

It was clear in the win over the Nets that the quintet is indeed getting more comfortable as a unit again. Injuries had destroyed their rhythm, but from strong screens and pinpoint passes to tight defense, the new old look Bucks are starting to feel it.

Luc went 7-of-10 from the field in the Milwaukee victory and all seven of his buckets came off a feed from a teammate. The Bucks finished with 25 assists on the evening, including 10 from Jennings who had a particularly strong rhythm with the Prince, as Jeremy Schmidt of Bucksketball wrote:

« On back to back possessions early in the fourth quarter, Jennings began the play awaiting a Luc Mbah a Moute screen, penetrated off of it and found a rolling Mbah a Moute for a layup.  Jennings can make these passes, but it’s important that the Bucks bigs get themselves in a position to receive them. »

Of his 15 points on the night, Luc scored 10 in the fourth and Milwaukee pulled away with the win. He also added five rebounds, an assist and a steal.

« It was a good effort by everybody, » Jennings told the Journal Sentinel. « The way they were playing defense, we knew if we moved the ball we could get anything we wanted. We got a lot of things to the basket. When they started pressing and went into the 2-3 (zone), that’s really when we moved the ball pretty well. »

The Bucks finish their four-game homestand Wednesday night when they play host to the Sacramento Kings.

After Wednesday, only 4 of Milwaukee’s final 12 games are at home at the Bradley Center. So as they fight for a spot in the playoffs, every one of those games has become a must-win.

« We have to try and win every game we can right here at home, protect home court if we want to make that push, » Luc said. « We’ve been doing a good job of it the last couple weeks. We’ve been playing better at home. And we have to steal a few on the road, too. »

Wednesday’s tilt with the Kings tips at 7 p.m. CST on FSN Wisconsin.


Can’t Fault the Fight

There’s no mistaking the effort that Luc Richard Mbah a Moute and the Milwaukee Bucks are putting into the end of this season.

The Bucks battled with the Orlando Magic for 53 minutes on Wednesday, just one night after a 48-minute tussle with the Atlanta Hawks.

But neither battle could produce what the Bucks need most: a victory.

« We played desperate and we played with a lot of intensity, » Luc told theMilwaukee Journal Sentinel after the 93-89 overtime loss to Orlando. « We pretty much put everything out on the table trying to get this win.

« It’s unfortunate we had a couple rebounds that we didn’t get when we should have got them. It was really tough for us. »

Luc played 45 of the 53 minutes in the game, though that’s not even his season-high, (47 vs. Charlotte) and for each one of those 45 minutes he was out there giving his all.

With center Andrew Bogut out of the lineup, No. 12’s defensive assignment varied from Orlando’s hulking big men Dwight Howard and Brandon Bass to lengthy shooters Ryan Anderson and Hedo Turkoglu.

While spreading himself thin on D, Luc still managed a solid offensive game with 10 points on 5-of-9 from the field and four assists.

Alex Boeder of Brew Hoop gave No. 12 kudos for his night.

« Big ups to Mbah a Moute for sharing a starting frontline with a rookie power forward playing center who failed to grab a rebound and fouled out in 17 minutes against Dwight Howard. In addition to the even more strenuous defensive duties, The Prince hit a couple jumpers to start the fourth quarter, pushed four assists, and did not turn the ball over in 44 minutes. »

All 10 of the Prince’s points came in the second half as Milwaukee fought its way back from a nine-point deficit to take the lead. His first bucket of the game, with just over five minutes to go in the third, made it a six-point game. He added another deuce exactly two minutes later to cut the deficit to two. John Salmons followed with a jumper, tying the game at 60.

Those baskets contributed to Milwaukee’s 10-1 run to close the third quarter with a 64-61 lead. Orlando scored the first four of the fourth quarter to take the lead back, but Luc wouldn’t allow that to last.

The Prince pushed Milwaukee ahead 66-65 with a jumper and after Howard tied it at 66, Luc drove in for a reverse layup to get the Bucks the lead back. Milwaukee’s next two buckets came off dishes from No. 12, with Brandon Jennings and Salmons each keeping the Bucks in front.

The Magic, however, followed with a 9-2 run to take a five-point lead late in the game. But two crucial Orlando fouls allowed the Bucks to sink five straight free throws to send the game to overtime.

Luc answered a 4-0 run by the Magic to start overtime with a slam to cut Orlando’s edge to two, but the Bucks could never surge to the lead and fell short in the end. Coach Scott Skiles said the game came down to Milwaukee having no answer for Howard’s size. But the coach told the Journal Sentinel that he was proud of the effort:

« I thought the guys were pretty smart about it and tried to hang in (against Howard), » Skiles said. « Obviously, he’s got everybody overmatched with his strength and athleticism. We tried to hold our ground when we could hold our ground. We tried to foul at pretty smart times. It put fouls on us and that’s what happens.

« Overall, the guys did a nice job. We just weren’t able to get it. »

The loss meant a missed opportunity for the Bucks. Both the teams in front of Milwaukee in the race for the eighth seed in the East, Indiana and Charlotte, lost on Wednesday as well. Those results leave the Bucks 2.5 games out of that eighth spot with 15 games to play.

The Bucks have two chances to jump up in the race this weekend when they host the New Jersey Nets and New York Knicks on Friday and Sunday respectively.

Tip-off with the Nets is scheduled for 7:30 CST and the game can be heard on AM 620 WTMJ.

The Bucks are back on TV Sunday against the Knicks and the 2 p.m. CST tip can be seen on FSN Wisconsin.


Bucks Split the Weekend

When the Bucks get a night out of Luc Richard Mbah a Moute like they did on Saturday, it’s generally a recipe for success.

Luc Richard continued his solid play over the last 10 games with 14 points and 12 rebounds for his seventh double-double of the season as the Bucks crushed the Philadelphia 76ers, 102-74. Milwaukee is now 5-2 when Luc doubles up.

No. 12 was a menace all over the court, picking up six rebounds on each end of the glass, adding five steals and even chipping in with three assists.

For his efforts, the Prince was named Player of the Game by Charles F. Gardner of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel:

Luc Richard Mbah a Moute had a double-double with 14 points and 12 rebounds and contributed five of the team’s 16 steals as he pestered the 76ers’ front line.

Luc pointed out in his postgame interview with Gardner that the steals led to offense:

« I thought we were really focused defensively today, » he said. « Once we got going with the steals, it helped us on the offensive end. »

No. 12’s work also drew praise from Frank Madden of Brew Hoop:

« Pretty much everyone in a Bucks uniform could make a case for Three Bucks honors tonight, but let’s start with the Prince. Mbah a Moute was the only player from either team to notch a double-double (14 points on eight shots, 12 rebounds), did all the little things (five steals! three assists! no turnovers!) and surprisingly dominated the bigger Elton Brand in every respect (1/3 fg, three pts, four turnovers). So much of basketball is about possessions, and Mbah a Moute was huge on both ends in that respect. »

Jeremy Schmidt of Bucksketball pointed to Luc’s six offensive rebounds as the biggest sign of his activity and success:

Always the contributor of « the little things » that really aren’t so little, Luc Mbah a Moute had a field day on the offensive glass against the Sixers.  Milwaukee’s slender but sturdy power forward had six offensive rebounds Saturday and 12 rebounds total.  Milwaukee was getting, and making, as many good shots as they have all season Saturday, but on the occasions in which they didn’t, it was usually Mbah a Moute there to bail them out.

Luc said the Bucks have always known they could play defense, but the problem has been getting the offense to come along with it.

« Our defense has always been kind of stable. On the offensive end, we’re moving the ball better, guys are shooting their shots with more confidence, » Mbah a Moute said. « We need to play that way for the rest of the season if we want to make the playoffs. »

Unfortunately for the Bucks, they couldn’t keep their offense going the next night in Boston and suffered a defeat just as lopsided as their previous night’s victory, 87-56. Luc did pitch in seven points and seven rebounds, but the Milwaukee offense as a unit shot just 31 percent from the field one night after shooting 52 percent.

The loss pushed the Bucks back to a game-and-a-half behind Indiana and Charlotte for the eighth seed in the East, with 17 to play. The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel has a breakdown of who each of those teams has left to play and the schedule doesn’t necessarily favor any of the three relatively inconsistent squads.

Coach Scott Skiles believes that not only do the Bucks want to reach the postseason for a second straight year, they need to in order to continue building the franchise in a positive direction.

« For us, where we’re at right now, Bogues missed the playoffs last year, » Skiles said. « We need to get him in postseason play. We need to get Brandon (Jennings) in postseason play again, (Luc Richard) Mbah a Moute, (Ersan) Ilyasova. That’s really important for us. »

The Bucks will get a playoff type test tonight when they take on the team that ousted them from the postseason last year, the Atlanta Hawks.

Tip-off from Atlanta is scheduled for 6 p.m. CST on FSN Wisconsin.


Back-to-Back on Track

Luc Richard Mbah a Moute and the Milwaukee Bucks needed a boost to ignite a playoff surge.

Back-to-back wins this week will certainly help.

The Bucks posted a pair of huge wins on a Tuesday-Wednesday back-to-back, defeating the Washington Wizards and Cleveland Cavaliers by a sum-total of 39 points.

After coming off the bench on Sunday, Luc Richard was back in the starting lineup for both games, his first starts since a stomach virus knocked him out of action for a week.

The 95-76 victory over the Wizards on Tuesday snapped a two-game losing streak. Luc recorded five rebounds in the win and added two steals, a block and an assist.

One night later, the Bucks were back in Milwaukee, but didn’t miss a beat, hammering the Cavs for a 110-90 victory. No. 12 scored six points and pulled down four boards in the win, which gave Milwaukee its first string of victories since a three-game win streak in late January.

« Two blowout wins in a row; I don’t think I remember the last time we’ve done that, » Luc’s teammate Andrew Bogut told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. « We can’t get ahead of ourselves. It’s still Washington and Cleveland. But in the same sense we’ve played three good basketball games if you include Boston (an 89-83 loss on Sunday). »

The Bucks also appear to be getting back on track at the right time. While most of the Eastern Conference playoff spots are relatively secure, the eighth-seed is wide-open. Five teams remain within striking distance with less than 20 games to play.

Milwaukee currently sits in the 10th position, but is just 1.5 games out of the eighth seed, which currently belongs to Indiana. Charlotte also stands in the Bucks’ way, but by just half a game.

Though they’re close to a spot, it won’t be easy for Luc and Co. to reach the postseason. Of their final 19 games, 11 are against teams currently over. 500 and they play 12 of those last 19 against teams currently above them in the East.

The Bucks begin a tough stretch against four straight East playoff teams on Saturday in Milwaukee.

The first of those four is the Philadelphia 76ers, who come to town red-hot as winners of seven of their last nine games.

« The big test for us is Philly, » Bogut said. « We never play well against Philly, and they’re having a great year. I think Philly is our test. »

After hosting the Sixers, Milwaukee has a quick turn around as they head to Boston for their second straight Sunday with the Celtics.

The home game with Philly on Saturday tips at 7 p.m., while Sunday’s showdown in Beantown is set for 5 p.m. CST. Both games can be seen on FSN Wisconsin and the Celtics game is also available on NBA TV.


Milwaukee’s Double Threat

Long known for his defense, Luc Richard Mbah a Moute has turned himself into one of the Milwaukee Bucks’ most reliable scorers down the stretch of this season.

And there’s only one thing Luc can credit with his transformation: a great deal of hard work.

« I think my shot is so much better with all the work I’ve put in, » he told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.« Now it’s just a matter of shooting the ball with a lot of confidence. I said before it’s not going to happen overnight but you can slowly see it happening already. »

Luc returned to action on Sunday against the Boston Celtics, following a two day layoff due to a stomach virus. In his return, Luc Richard’s shot didn’t miss a beat.

No. 12 went 7-of-9 from the field for 14 points in Sunday’s first half to lead the Bucks to a 49-43 halftime lead on the East’s top team. Luc finished with a new season-high of 19 points, but Milwaukee couldn’t sustain the offense in the second half and fell 89-83 to the Celtics.

« The whole game, we felt like we hung in there, we did a good job of hanging in there with them, but I feel like we shot ourselves in the foot, turning the ball over and not executing when we needed to at a crucial moment of the game, » Luc told CBS Sports. « That really cost us. »

Along with his 19 points, the Prince added seven rebounds, two steals and an assist. He was a bright spot for the Bucks on a tough night and he’s been one of the few bright spots in a long season, as Jeremy Schmidt of Bucksketball writes:

« Throughout his first season and in his second season, it seemed like Luc Mbah a Moute was a jump shot away from being a really useful 30 plus minute player.  Forget the jump shot though, this guy is awfully useful right now.

Mbah a Moute has come a long ways since his rookie season offensively.  He attacks the rim very hard and uses his athleticism and touch around the hoop to finish as well as anyone on the Bucks.  He is always competing and finds himself in the right places more often than not when the Bucks have the ball.

His defense no longer needs much praise, it’s a given every night he’ll be a headache for the opposition, but his offense has really come along nice.  From 15-feet in, Mbah a Moute is as reliable as anyone on the Bucks. »

Over the last five games in which he’s played extended minutes (20+), Luc Richard is averaging 12.6 points per game. He believes he can be an offensive threat for the Bucks going forward, while providing the same lockdown defense they need.

« And I think that’s pretty good for me in terms of my career, » the Prince said regarding the development of his offensive game. « I’m going to continue to get better at it to become a better player. »

Luc and the Bucks are back at it tonight against the Washington Wizards.

Catch all the action at 6 p.m. CST on FSN Wisconsin.


Luc Takes his Best Shot

Luc Richard Mbah a Moute continues to impress on both sides of the ball.

But for Luc, success is measured in only one way and that’s through winning.

No. 12 posted a season-high 16 points against the Chicago Bulls on Saturday, draining 7-of-9 shots. He also added eight rebounds, four steals and strong defense of Bulls forward Carlos Boozer (13 points, six rebounds).

But that wasn’t enough for the Bucks, who let an early third quarter lead slip away and fell 83-75 to their divisional rivals. After the game, Luc lamented a 12-1 Chicago run midway through the third that took the lead away for good.

« They made that run and we never recovered from that, » he told the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel. « Both teams were playing pretty good defense. Every time you let a team like that get away by that much in a tight game like this, it’s tough. »

Up to the time of that run, Luc Richard had put the Bucks on his back. He scored 10 of Milwaukee’s first 19 points to give the Bucks a 19-12 lead less than nine minutes into the game. But moments after his fifth bucket of the night, Luc picked up his second foul and headed for the bench.

While he was away, the Bulls went on a 17-10 run to tie the game at 29. No. 12 returned early in the second quarter but after grabbing a pair of rebounds he picked up his third foul with 4:25 left in the half and was sent back to the bench.

« I’ve got to do a better job of not fouling, » he said.

Luc came out motivated in the third quarter and made his first two shots back-to-back, pushing the Bucks to a 48-44 lead. But it was after the second shot that the Bulls went on their run. By the end of the third, Chicago led by 11 and though Milwaukee pulled within six late, the Bulls held them off to win their 40th game.

Though it came in a losing effort, Bucks fans could appreciate Luc’s performance and Alex Boeder of Brew Hoop gave No. 12 his due:

Luc Mbah a Moute. Absolutely crushed it against Carlos Boozer’s embarrassing « defense » early on, driving by Boozer on the baseline, making open jumpers, and creating his own offense with steals (4 of those tonight) and finishes (season-high 16 points). The Prince was the best offensive player and best defensive player for Milwaukee, but he only played 26 minutes while battling foul trouble, as defensive stars clearly do not get defensive star treatment from the refs.

Jeremy Schmidt of Bucksketball noted that Saturday’s performance from Luc is the type that could buoy the Bucks down the stretch:

Mbah a Moute combined his ability to get past opposing bigs for layups with a rare ability to hit open shots on Saturday.  If ever this was a consistent thing for Mbah a Moute, he could really be an important player.

The Bucks continue a four-game homestand tonight when they host the Detroit Pistons at the Bradley Center.

Milwaukee is without both forward Ersan Ilyasova and Andrew Bogut, who will miss tonight’s game due to injury. With a need in the post, the Bucks will expect big minutes and another big night from Luc Richard.

Tip-off is scheduled for 7 p.m. CST on FSN Wisconsin.