Luc Richard Mbah a Moute made his return to the Milwaukee lineup on Wednesday night after an eight-game absence with a toe injury, but his arrival was not enough to snap a Bucks losing streak.
Luc played 13 minutes off the bench and hit all three of the shots he took for seven points. He also grabbed three rebounds, but the Bucks dropped their fourth straight game, 100-93 at the hands of the Philadelphia 76ers.
Despite the loss, the Bucks remain 6.5 games ahead of Philadelphia for the East’s final playoff spot with just 12 games to play. But Luc believes the Bucks can’t rest on that lead and must work hard to finish the job and clinch their spot.
« It’s good people are talking about playoffs, but I hate to see people talking about it like we already made it, » Mbah a Moute said. « That can come back and haunt us. We have to have the mind-set that we’ve got to clinch. We’ve got to strive to play our best during these next two or three weeks and hopefully we’re playing our best walking into the playoffs. »
Getting Luc back in the lineup can only help. He practiced on Monday for the first time since injuring his toe in a win over the Sacramento Kings on March 10th. LRMAM missed the next eight games and the Bucks went 2-6.
He returned to practice on Monday in an effort to get ready for Wednesday’s game.
« It’s still painful and stuff like that, but it’s definitely getting better, » he said at the time. « I’m still having a lot of pain with cutting and pushing off really hard, accelerating. I’d like to come back and play. It just depends on how this thing heals. The way it’s going, I’m pretty optimistic. I’ll see tomorrow again in practice. »
No. 12 practiced again on Tuesday and reported that he was feeling good enough to play on Wednesday night against the Sixers.
« If I’m able to run and push off with it, [have] limited pain, » he said. « If I can do it, I’m going to see if I can suit up and play. »
But Bucks coach Jim Boylan knew Luc would have some rust after missing more than two weeks, so rather than inserting him right back into the lineup, he decided to bring LRMAM off the bench.
« Luc hasn’t played in a while, » Boylan said. « We’ll ease him back in. I don’t just want to throw him out there as a starter and he’s not physically ready or whatever. We’ll stick him out there and see how he looks and see how comfortable he is. We’ll just take it from there. »
Luc made the most of his limited minutes though. He entered with under six minutes left in the first half and the Bucks trailing by 17, but immediately helped the Bucks cut into that lead with a rebound that led to a trey by Ersan Ilyasova to cut the deficit to 13.
Luc made the most of his minutes Wednesday with 7 points on 3-of-3 & his usual solid defense (Getty Images).
Later in the quarter, Luc cut the Philly lead to eight with a putback off a Monta Ellis miss and after a Sixers turnover, Ellis found Luc beyond the arc, where No. 12 buried a trey to pull the Bucks within five, 47-42 with under three minutes to go in the half. At halftime, Milwaukee trailed by just six.
The Bucks had taken a two-point lead by the time Luc re-entered the game with 1:27 left to go in the third and his dunk less than a minute later pushed their lead to five. They entered the fourth with a two-point lead, but managed just 14 points in the final 12 minutes as Philadelphia took the lead back and pushed to victory.
Luc stressed afterward that the Bucks need to figure some things out and get back to what got them such a big lead if they hope to clinch a playoff spot and enter the postseason with some positive momentum.
« We’ve got to go out in these games and try to get better as a team, » he said. « Win as many games as we can. But we’ve got to play better. And that’s going to translate into wins for us and give us some good momentum going into the playoffs. »
The Bucks are right back at it on Thursday night as they host the Los Angeles Lakers at the BMO Harris Bradley Center. Tip-off is slated for 7 p.m. CDT and the game can be seen on FSN Wisconsin.
- Ellis sick but may play (Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel, March 22, 2013)
- Bucks focus on clinching playoff spot (Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel, March 22, 2013)
- Mbah a Moute practices, hopes to play Wednesday (Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel, March 25, 2013)
- Bucks await Luc Richard Mbah a Moute’s return (Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel, March 26, 2013)
- Tip-time: Mbah a Moute to come off bench vs. 76ers (Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel, March 27, 2013)
- Sixers Sink Saggin Bucks (Brew Hoop, March 27, 2013)
- Bucks vs. Sixers Recap (Brew Hoop, March 27, 2013)
- Brandon Jennings benched in Bucks loss (Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel, March 28, 2013)