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Bucks Grind Out a Win

The All-Star break did Luc Richard Mbah a Moute and the Milwaukee Bucks some good.


Luc crashed the glass for four offensive boards & two tip-ins in a game where every bucket was crucial (Getty Images).

Luc came off the bench to score 13 points and added six rebounds and a steal, as a well-rested Bucks team began the second half with a 119-118 victory over the Washington Wizards.

« We’re glad to get the win, » Bucks coach Scott Skiles said. « We were fortunate. We’ll take it. We’re glad we got it. We’ve struggled to make the last play several times this year and tonight we made it, so that’s good. »

The Bucks, who entered the break losers of six of their last seven, came out aggressively and energetically against the Wizards. They scored 33 points in the first quarter and by halftime they’d tallied 67 to take a 14-point lead over Washington.

After entering the game with less than three minutes to go in the first, Luc chipped in where he was able. His putback layup with 1:16 left in the quarter put the Bucks up eight and they led by nine after one.

No. 12 added five more points in the first two minutes of the second, using his inside game to earn a pair of trips to the line. His first trip garnered two free throws, which he made, while his second came after a short layup. Luc converted the three-point play to give Milwaukee a 12-point lead. They pushed that lead as high as 22, but a late Wizards run cut it back to 14 at the half.

Washington continued that run into the third and by the time Luc entered with 3:41 to go in the quarter, the game was tied at 81. The Wizards went up by two shortly thereafter, but Luc helped cool them down late. He also attacked the glass hard, nabbing two offensive boards in the closing minutes of the third. His putback with 1.1 second left in the quarter gave the Bucks a 92-89 lead.

Four of Luc’s six rebounds in the game came on the offensive glass as he got inside for tip-ins or grabbed the ball and kicked out to give his team extra opportunities. Luc remained in for the entirety of the fourth, coming up with rebounds and steals for the Bucks in key spots.

No. 12 got free for a dunk just a minute into the quarter pushing Milwaukee up by three and his free throws with 6:26 to go made it a five-point lead.

In addition, he switched between players on Washington’s front line in the fourth as the Bucks tried to stifle a hot Wizards attack. It came down to the wire, with the Bucks even falling behind by one with 6.8 ticks to go on a John Wall runner. But at the other end Ersan Ilyasova tipped in a Brandon Jennings miss with 2.2 remaining to give Milwaukee the win.

NEXT UP

With the victory, the Bucks climbed within three games of eighth place in the Eastern Conference.

Their next game is against that team that occupies that 8th place spot, the Boston Celtics. Luc and the Bucks head on the road to play the second game of a back to back tonight in Boston. Tip off is at 6:30 pm CST on FSN Wisconsin.

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Luc At the Break

In a compressed season where durability and toughness are being severely tested, Luc Richard Mbah A Moute’s unique talents have helped to hold the Milwaukee Bucks together.


Luc’s energy, hustle and dedication on both ends of the court have aided Milwaukee (Getty Images).

The Bucks retained Luc on a four-year contract this offseason, matching an offer sheet from the Denver Nuggets. Luc has since rewarded the Bucks with the type of energetic play and defensive intensity they’ve come to expect from No. 12.

After overcoming some injury concerns early in the season, Luc has stepped up to help the Bucks remain in the playoff hunt despite the absence of center Andrew Bogut, who was lost for the season to injury. At the break, Milwaukee sits just 2.5 games out of the eighth seed in the East.

The Prince believes the break is coming at the right time for Milwaukee as they look to regroup and recharge after a grueling first half of the season.

« It’s going to help a lot, » he said. « It [was] getting to the point where the schedule is starting to catch up. »

BY THE NUMBERS

Luc has helped his team stay caught up to the rest of the pack in the Eastern Conference thanks to another strong start. Here’s a look at the numbers that set No. 12 apart from his peers.

.7 Luc’s blocks per game, a career high so far this season

2 No. 12’s average fouls per game, doing the best job of his career defending without fouling.

3 members of the Heat « Big Three » that the Prince took on one-by-one in a victory over Miami on Feb. 1

14 starts this year for Luc out of 21 games played.

19 No. 12’s turnovers this season, second lowest among Bucks that have played at least 20 games.

38 Luc’s season high in minutes played in a victory over the Lakers on Jan. 28

79.5 The Prince’s career-high free throw percentage, a product of his hard work this offseason.

104 Luc’s defensive rating so for the season, right in line with his career average.

GAME OF THE YEAR

Luc’s game of the year came against the league’s best team, the Miami Heat.

Both teams entered the game hot, the Bucks winners of two in a row and the Heat having reeled off five straight victories. But Luc put the freeze on Miami on the first of February, helping the Bucks to rally from a 17-point deficit to win 105-97.

Luc showed a lot about his own commitment and will in particular, refusing to back down after watching the Heat shoot 83 percent and tally 40 points in the first quarter alone. For the rest of the game they shot just 36 percent and scored only 57 more points.

Each of Miami’s « Big Three » was kept in check by the Milwaukee defense with Luc manning each guy at different points during the game. But LeBron James was of particular note. After a 24-point first, James scored just two points in the second, eight in the third and only six in the fourth. It was in that fourth that Luc took on the challenge of guarding the Heat star. Playing all but 38 seconds of the crunch time quarter, the Prince limited King James to just six points on 2-of-5 from the field.

« LeBron went off in the first half and we needed to stay on him a little bit, try to calm him down, » Luc said.

Luc also mentioned that Miami’s stars often look to go 1-on-1 rather than running set plays. He said that strategy only benefits his smothering style of defense. Trying to attack Luc one on one in a half court setting on a consistent basis is a difficult task.

« I think it’s good for us when they try to go one-on-one. You can still get exposed that way. » he said. « But when you’re able to stop them, it gets the other guys around them frustrated and you’re able to slow down their momentum offensively. »

Luc helped the Bucks do just that and Milwaukee walked away with its biggest win of the season.

AS SEEN BY:

Bucks bloggers understand the value that Luc brings to the Bucks lineup every time he steps on the floor.

Ian Segovia Bucksetball.com :
LRMAM is an elite defender at three positions and he’s not that much of an offensive liability if he’s playing near the rim or cutting to the basket often.

Josh Hilgendorf Bucksketball.com:
It has to be Mbah a Moute. Lose him and you lose one of the premier defensive players in the league. We all know Scott Skiles is a defensive coach first, and his schemes rely on having a player with Mbah a Moute’s ability locking down the opposing team’s best player.

Jeremy Schmidt Bucksetball.com after the win over Miami
Starting on Bosh? Forcing Wade into step back threes after 24 seconds of dribbling? Blocking him on a drive into the paint? Spending the last part of the fourth quarter on LeBron after spending the majority of the game on Wade? All while tossing in 11 points and six rebounds? As if Mbah a Moute needed to do anything else to endear himself to Milwaukee fans as a defender and putbacks guy. This game was the prototype for all big defense little offense guys.

THEY SAID IT
:

Members of his team and opponents alike praise the Prince for his defense, energy, and effort that make him one of the elite defenders in the NBA.

Milwaukee Bucks Head Coach Scott Skiles:

« Sometimes if you say a guy is an energy player, a player could take offense to that, thinking you’re forgetting about their skills. But Luc is going to make his money in his career because he can be a high-energy player and not only guard his man as well as anybody in the league can, for the most part, but also get involved in the team defense and get on the board for us. »

Bucks center Andrew Bogut:

« I love playing with Luc. Most importantly, he’s on their best player every game. I read last night online he’s the best on ball defender, not just me saying it, but statistically someone did a stat and he’s the best on ball defender in the league. »

Milwaukee Bucks GM John Hammond

« We appreciate Luc and what he’s done for us as an organization and what he stands for. He’s a relentless worker and if you’re willing to put in the time I think you have an opportunity to improve. »

Scott Skiles:

« Not a lot of guys can affect the game the way he can without scoring the ball. And then, we have no problem with him taking his open 15-footer and his drives to the basket. »

PRACTICE MAKES PERFECT

Due to the condensed season and a hectic travel schedule, teams throughout the league have canceled practices. Luc believes that the lack of practice has hurt his team a bit.

« I prefer to have practices. Practice makes you better, » he said. « It takes a lot for a veteran to get ready for a game. For veterans to play game after game after game, it’s a little harder. Some veterans need treatment; they have some miles on their legs; it’s not as easy to get the body going. »

The schedule doesn’t get much easier for Milwaukee in the second half. They begin the season on a back-to-back and then endure four more, as well as a back-to-back-to-back in March. The load lightens in April, with just three back-to-backs and nine of 14 games at home inside the Bradley Center.

IN HIS OWN WORDS

Despite the craziness of the condensed season, Luc still loves his job and looks forward to the challenge of taking on the best players in the game on a nightly basis.

« It’s a tough job, going against those guys, But it’s a fun job, too. Those guys are the best and it’s always fun to play against the best. »

Luc Keeps It Simple

Luc Richard Mbah a Moute and the Milwaukee Bucks got back to basics on Sunday night and snapped a four-game losing streak.


Luc drives in for two of his 12 in Milwaukee’s 92-85 victory over the Nets on Sunday night (Getty Images).

Luc came off of the bench to put in 12 points, grab eight rebounds, and pick off two steals in the 92-85 victory over the New Jersey Nets. He also displayed his defense versatility, guarding multiple New Jersey players and forcing them all into tough shots, much to the pleasure of his head coach.

« Particularly in the first half, he played well, » Bucks coach Scott Skiles said of Luc. « He did a nice job, played with energy and did some of the things that he can do. He guarded a couple of different guys in the game. »

As a group, the Nets shot just 34.1 percent from the field, including 23.3 percent in the first half. The Prince was a big part of that effort, closing out quickly on New Jersey’s three-point shooters and clogging the lane so that playmaking point guard Deron Williams’ opportunities to penetrate the defense were limited.

No. 12 credited the defensive effort of the entire team as the difference in the win.

« I thought our defense was good the whole game. They shot like 23 percent in the first half and we turned it on [offensively] in the second half. Our defense stayed really good and we got that big lead and just kept it, » he said. « We moved the ball really well offensively, but our defense was the reason we won. »

With so many misfires coming from the Nets, especially early in the game as they missed 34 shots in the first half, the Bucks did work on the glass, outrebounding New Jersey by 10 for the night. They also grabbed 21 of their 53 boards on the offensive glass and tallied 22 second chance points.

At the forefront of Milwaukee’s success on the boards was Ersan Ilyasova, who put forth a monster game from the front line. Ilyasova dominated the game, both scoring and rebounding. He scored 29 points and added 25 boards, 13 of them coming on the offensive glass.

« Ers can definitely rebound the ball. The way he’s been playing this year has been big for us. Tonight again it showed. He has an ability to quick jump, get tipped balls, and get key rebounds for us. That was big, » Luc said. « I’m very impressed. Any time you get 20-plus rebounds, it’s a great effort. 20 rebounds in a game is big. It’s a great game for him and he’s a big reason why we won tonight. »

After a fourth straight loss on Friday to the Orlando Magic, Skiles felt that his team needed to simplify things. So the Milwaukee coach stressed that his team get back to basics a little bit and not try to do too much on the court, regardless of the score or the outcome of the game.

« We’re less focused on wins and losses as how we’re playing. If you play well, you’ll win enough games, » Skiles said. « This was a game where, if we played simple, things would happen for us. When we tried to make difficult plays, bad things happened. We tried to get out of that. »

Luc said that playing the game that way involves a delicate balance, but at the heart of it is team basketball and the will to win.

« You want to take your opportunities as a player, but at the same team play within the team concept and keep it simple, » he said. « Tonight we did that. »

That simplicity also helped the Bucks bounce back and put forth a strong defensive game in the return of Nets center Brook Lopez. Milwaukee never gave New Jersey a chance to get in a rhythm with the returning big man.

« We got enough stops. We had a pretty good defensive game all night, » Skiles said. « We reacted pretty well all over the floor, had some good quickness, played with some pop. »

Though the Bucks shut New Jersey down offensively for most of the game, they didn’t run away with it. When the Nets made a late run, pulling within five points with two minutes to go, the Bucks had to make key plays down the stretch to secure the victory. Keeping it simple was key to making those plays.

« We made enough plays down the stretch. Carlos hit a big shot there at the end and we got a key pass to Ersan for a layup. Just small plays for each other, team basketball, to get the win, » Luc said. « There wasn’t anybody trying to take the game over. We did it as a team. »

NEXT UP

Luc and the Bucks are right back at it tonight as they return home to Milwaukee, where they’ll host the Orlando Magic. It’s the third meeting in three weeks between the two teams with the Bucks still searching for their first win of the season against Orlando. The game tips off at 7:00 p.m. CST and can be seen on FSN Wisconsin.

Bucks Bounce Back

Quite possibly the best thing about the condensed 2011-2012 NBA schedule is that it makes for a short memory.

Luc Richard Mbah a Moute and his Bucks teammates learned that this week as they bounced back from a heartbreaking loss to the Suns on Tuesday and defeated the Toronto Raptors the next night.

Luc’s versatility as a defender was tested as he went from defending Phoenix wing Channing Frye early and point guard Steve Nash late on Tuesday, to locking down Raptors scorer DeMar DeRozan on Wednesday.

« He’s guarded them all, » Bucks coach Scott Skiles said recently. « We were better with Luc on him. Look, we’re better with Luc on anybody, no slight on our other players. But Luc is exceptional. »

However it was Nash who broke the Bucks’ hearts on Tuesday night, banking in a runner with five seconds left to lift the Suns over Milwaukee.


Steve Nash got his shot off just out of Luc’s reach to dash Milwaukee’s hopes of a comeback win (Getty Images).

Luc started the game and played a strong first nine minutes, scoring four points, grabbing two rebounds and forcing Frye and Nash each into a turnover. But when he checked out with 2:55 remaining, the Bucks trailed by seven.

The Prince returned at the start of the third with Milwaukee trailing by 17 and made a big play, tipping in a Drew Gooden miss and drawing a foul. The three-point play trimmed the Bucks’ deficit back from 21 to 18 points and sparked a huge third quarter for the Bucks. By the end of it, Milwaukee trailed by just seven. The Bucks then opened the fourth on a 14-2 run to take the lead.

But Phoenix stayed in it and with less then a minute to go and the score knotted at 105, Bucks coach Scott Skiles went to Luc and asked his defensive stalwart to shut down Nash.

No. 12 did all he could in that regard as Milwaukee forced Grant Hill into a tough shot with 26.8 seconds to go. Hill missed, but Marcin Gortat grabbed the offensive rebound. That set the stage for Nash and after a timeout, the Suns point guard took a staggered double screen from Frye and Gortat that picked off Luc and cut to the basket. By the time Luc got back to him, Nash had gotten off a floater to give Phoenix the lead.

« A great player made a great shot, » Luc said. « We didn’t make enough plays down the stretch to win the game. »

The Bucks couldn’t get a shot off in their final five seconds and fell by two.

« He (Nash) kind of toyed with us tonight but he does that to a lot of people, » Skiles said. « You’ve just got to try to crowd him and stay with his body, make him play in a crowd. »

Luckily the memory of having their hopes dashed by Nash didn’t have to stick with the Bucks for long. They flew to Canada on Tuesday night and on Wednesday they took on another up-tempo, energetic team in the Toronto Raptors.

Luc helped the Bucks get off to a good start by scoring two points, grabbing two rebounds and forcing a turnover in the first two-and-a-half minutes of the game. But Toronto bounced back and led by one after one.

No. 12 added four more points in the second, on consecutive trips to the free throw line, as he gave the Bucks a 47-45 lead. He then grabbed three rebounds in a 78-second span to push Milwaukee out by six, 54-49. By the end of the half, when Luc found Stephen Jackson for a layup, the Bucks had established a seven-point lead.

He picked up right where he left off in the second half, scoring four points in the first 1:33 to make it a nine-point game. Then Luc went to work with his defense, switching between DeRozan and Amir Johnson, whose shot he stuffed early in the third.

The Bucks held tightly to the lead in the third and after falling behind briefly in the fourth, jumped back ahead thanks to a 9-2 run. They held that lead for the duration on the way to the 105-99 victory. Luc finished with 10 points on 2-of-4 and made all six of his free throws. He also pulled down six rebounds in 26 minutes. The win moved the Bucks back into the eighth spot in the Eastern Conference.

NEXT UP

The Bucks have another back to back ahead of them starting Friday when they take on their division rival Cavaliers in Cleveland. Then it’s back home on Saturday to host Dwight Howard and the Orlando Magic.

Friday’s game has a 6:30 CST start time and Saturday’s tips at 8 p.m. CST. Both can be seen on FSN Wisconsin.

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A Special Night Off

Luc Richard Mbah a Moute used a night off on Monday to do something special.

Luc and his Milwaukee Bucks teammates hosted a basketball clinic on Monday night for 200 Special Olympics athletes and their coaches at Homestead High School in nearby Mequon, Wisconsin.

 

The Bucks have enjoyed a longstanding partnership with Special Olympics, a relationship that goes back nearly 25 years and though the members of each organization have changed, the warmth and caring spirit remains on the Bucks.

That goes especially for Luc, who, in his three years as an NBA player, has become well known for his charitable contributions to help kids in the U.S. and abroad.

« For us to have the impact we have on the kids is always something special, » he told FOX6 on Monday night. « This is even more special. »

Many of the Special Olympics athletes got excited to meet some of their favorite players.

« I like to see all the Bucks people, like my favorite players. It’s nice! » Mario Ogunbowale said.


Bucks players and the Special Olympics athletes bring their hands together as a sign of unity.

While the athletes had a great time at the event, it was also special for their parents, who had a chance to see their children have fun and interact with some of their idols.

« It’s the atmosphere. It brings the good out, » Brenda North, parent of a Special Olympian, told FOX6. « It’s wonderful. It’s a once-in-a-lifetime experience, so it will be cherished for a long time to come. »

Bucks assistant coach Jim Boylan told FOX6 that the event also offers players, coaches and Bucks staff members some unique perspective.

« Sometimes you think your life is tough, and you have a lot of things on your mind, and then you come around these kids and they just have joy in their hearts, and a pep in their step, and they’re happy to be out here interacting with you, playing basketball and having a good time, » he said. « It really puts things in perspective. »

BUCKS DROP WEEKEND PAIR

Coming off one of the most successful weeks in recent franchise history, with wins over the Lakers and Heat, the Bucks were riding-high. But they hit a bump in the road over the weekend.

Milwaukee lost both games of a Friday-Saturday back-to-back, dropping one the Pistons, 88-80, in Detroit on Friday night before returning home and succumbing to the Bulls, 113-90 on Saturday.

Luc was 3-of-6 for seven points and added five rebounds in Detroit on Friday. On Saturday, he did his best to stay in front of Chicago’s Luol Deng, forcing Deng to take 19 shots to get his 21 points.

On the offensive end, Luc was one of nine Bucks held to single digits on the scoreboard with five points. He added four rebounds and two blocks, but Milwaukee could not find enough offense to keep up with Chicago, as only Drew Gooden and Tobias Harris scored in double-digits.

« I’m hopeful it’s fatigue or something, » Bucks coach Scott Skiles said of the lack of us success over the weekend, « and we can get our legs under us [Sunday] and come back and have a good practice on Monday and try to get something going for next week. »

NEXT UP

The Bucks have a healthy chance at a winning week, with games against Phoenix, Toronto and Cleveland on the slate. All three of their opponents sport records worse than Milwaukee at the moment.

The week begins tonight as the Bucks finish up a quick homestand by hosting the Phoenix Suns at the Bradley Center. Luc’s versatility will be needed as the Suns have one of the most versatile front lines in the league.

Former MVP Steve Nash recorded a season high in points against the Bucks on Jan. 8, so the Prince may be called upon to slow him down as well.

Tipoff is scheduled for 7:00 p.m CST and the game can be seen on FSN Wisconsin.

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Prince Cools Off the Heat

Luc Richard Mbah a Moute knew playing the Miami Heat on Wednesday night would be a challenge and after one quarter, things looked bleak for his Milwaukee Bucks.

But after falling behind by 17 points in the first quarter, Milwaukee rallied. Luc stepped up his game on the defensive end, rotating between all three of Miami’s stars and the Bucks executed on offense. The result was a 105-97 season-defining win over the Heat.

« It’s definitely a character victory; it says a lot about our team, » Luc said. « It shows a lot about our commitment and our will. »

Luc showed a lot about his own commitment and will in particular, refusing to back down after watching the Heat shoot 83 percent and tally 40 points in the first quarter alone. For the rest of the game they shot just 36 percent and scored only 57 more points.


Luc and the Bucks fought for every ball on the way to a comeback win over the Miami Heat (Getty Images).

Of note to the Bucks early was the play of Miami’s LeBron James, who started the game on a tremendous roll. James tied his career high for points in a quarter with 24 in the first and it seemed as if no one was going to be able to slow him down.

But James scored just two points in the second, eight in the third and only six in the fourth. It was in that fourth that Luc took on the challenge of guarding the Heat star. Playing all but 38 seconds of the crunch time quarter, the Prince limited King James to just six points on 2-of-5 from the field.

« He’s not easy to stop, » Bucks guard Brandon Jennings told the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel. « He got it going early, but I think we did a great job (in the) second half, just countering him on everything. »

Miami looked for other options, but the Bucks’ defensive rotations shut down Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh too. The two combined for just six points on 2-of-11 in the fourth. Luc, who began the game on Bosh and also spent a lot of time on Wade before taking over on James in the fourth, took pride in rising to the challenge.

« It’s a tough job, going against those guys, » Mbah a Moute told the MJS. « But it’s a fun job, too. Those guys are the best and it’s always fun to play against the best. LeBron went off in the first half and we needed to stay on him a little bit, try to calm him down. »

Luc also mentioned that Miami’s stars often look to go 1-on-1 rather than running set plays. He said that strategy only benefits his smothering style of defense. Trying to attack Luc one on one in a half court setting on a consistent basis is a difficult task.

« I think it’s good for us when they try to go one-on-one. You can still get exposed that way. » he said. « But when you’re able to stop them, it gets the other guys around them frustrated and you’re able to slow down their momentum offensively. »

While Miami’s offensive momentum from the 40-point first ground to a halt thanks to the Milwaukee defense, the Bucks offense picked it up, outscoring the Heat 58-37 in the second half. Milwaukee shot 52.5 percent from the field in that second half.

« That’s what we talked about, » Bucks coach Scott Skiles said after his team trailed, 60-47, at halftime. « We can’t have an ordinary energy game. We have to have an extraordinary energy game against them. And the guys came out in the second half and really took it to them. »

As part of that effort, Luc buried all four of his shots, tallying nine second half points. He finished the night 6-of-7 from the field for 13 points and also grabbed eight rebounds, seven of which came in the second half. His +22 point differential was a team-high by a wide margin.

Jeremy Schmidt of the Bucks blog Bucksketball lauded Luc for his impressive performance on both sides of ball, giving No. 12 an A- in his post game recap:

TAKING CARE OF BUSINESS

The Bucks’ big win over Detroit came just two days after Milwaukee took care of business at home with a big win over the Pistons on Monday.

Luc got the start and gave the Bucks four rebounds, two points, two assists and a steal along with the type of defense that helped limit Detroit to 38 percent shooting from the field. Ian Segovia from Bucksketball was appreciative of No. 12’s work on Pistons big man Greg Monroe in the absence of Andrew Bogut.

« Seriously, how versatile is Moute. Guards Kobe one game, the next he has to guard Greg Monroe. He used his long arms to deny Monroe the ball. And when Monroe was backing up, those same arms pestered Monroe’s dribble resulting in a few turnovers. »


With wins over Detroit and Miami this week, the Bucks are now 6-2 since Luc returned (Getty Images).

After the game, Coach Scott Skiles once again praised the defensive efforts of No. 12 throughout the season on any player Skiles puts him on.

« I think pound for pound Luc is right there as one of the best defenders in the league, » Skiles said. « I know people think he’s a good defender, but I still think he gets sold short a little bit. He gets after people’s dribbles; he’s very smart. He’s great laterally and can really keep the ball in front of him. »

That defense is clearly valuable to the Bucks. Since Luc returned from his bout with knee tendinitis, Milwaukee is 6-2, climbing to within a game of the .500 mark after a 4-9 start to the season.

NEXT UP

After playing three straight at home the Bucks make a brief stop in Detroit on Friday night to take on the Pistons at The Palace of Auburn Hills before heading back home for two more at the Bradley Center.

Tip-off for the second meeting of the week between Milwaukee and Detroit is scheduled for 6:30 pm. CST Friday night and the game can be seen on FSN Wisconsin.

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Locking Down Lakers

Tasked with defending one of the league’s elite scorers, Luc Richard Mbah a Moute did some of his best work of the season on Saturday night and helped the Bucks to a big win.

Luc lived up to his « Lockdown » moniker limiting Los Angeles Lakers stars Kobe Bryant and Pau Gasol as the Bucks routed LA 100-89 at the Bradley Center.


After forcing Kobe Bryant into a turnover, Luc took off with the steal for a rim-rocking jam (Getty Images).

With Stephen Jackson and Andrew Bogut both out for the Bucks, No. 12 saw an increased role with the Bucks and excelled. Luc played a season high 38 minutes and was very aggressive in his time on the floor. He led the Bucks in free throw attempts with six and scored a season high 10 points.

But it was once again his defense that stood out in a Bucks win. The Prince spent much of the game locked up on Bryant, and though the Lakers scorer still found a way to score 27 points, he had to work hard for every one of them.

« We tried to make him have a tough night and we succeeded, » Luc Richard told the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel. « It was a collective effort by the whole team. Carlos started the game trying to get him off his spots and me finishing up. »

Luc and Co. forced Bryant into 21 tough shots and also made him pass, as evidenced by Bryant’s uncharacteristically high nine assists.

« We did as good a job on their key guys as we could, » Coach Scott Skiles. « I thought we were outstanding on Kobe and he almost had a triple-double. In particular Luc – he did what Luc does. »

Luc also rotated over to Gasol often and helped the Bucks limit the Lakers’ other star to just 12 points on 18 shots. As a unit the Bucks held LA to just 50 percent shooting in the paint, an area where the Lakers generally excel. And they did so without their primary interior defender.

« It means a lot, especially with Bogut not being there, » Luc told the Associated Press. « He’s always our anchor down there in the front line. For us to go out there and make it tough on a guy like Gasol, it’s big. That’s probably the reason why we won the game. »

Luc in particular was noted for his stellar job on Gasol, who the Lakers tried to feature with the absence of Bogut to no avail.

After playing for 39 minutes and coming away with just 12 points, Gasol left the Bradley Center very frustrated by No. 12 and the Bucks.

« In the first half, we did a decent job. In the second half, there were not many touches, » Gasol said. « They were beating us all over the court. »

Luc didn’t only make big plays on defense; he also scored the biggest bucket of the game. The Bucks led 85-76 after an inside score from Ersan Ilyasova with just under eight minutes left, but Bryant scored five straight points to cut the lead to four at 85-81. The Prince calmly answered with a 15-footer from the left wing with 4:30 left, starting an 8-2 Milwaukee run that helped secure the victory.

The win followed up a tough loss for the Bucks on Friday night in Chicago. Luc got the start, but played just 12 minutes and scored four points in the defeat.

Luc has now started four consecutive games for Milwaukee, including a win over the Rockets on Wednesday, in which he chipped in two points, four rebounds, an assist and a steal. He helped the Bucks limit the Rockets to just 40 percent from the field in the 105-99 Milwaukee win.

NEXT UP

The Bucks continue a three-game homestand tonight when they host the Detroit Pistons at the Bradley Center. Tip-off is scheduled for 7 p.m. CST and the game can be seen on FSN Wisconsin.

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Starting Assignment

Luc Richard Mbah A Moute didn’t take long to impress his coach Scott Skiles.

Luc returned to action over the weekend following an eight-game absence, coming off the bench in Bucks wins at New York and Miami He played 24 and 28 minutes, respectively, while giving his usual stellar effort defensively against a variety of opposing standouts. According to Skiles, the performance was enough to merit insertion back into the starting lineup.


Luc played strong on Joe Johnson and Josh Smith, but the Bucks couldn’t stretch their winning streak (Getty Images).

So when the Bucks took the floor on Monday against the Atlanta, there was looking starting at power forward. No. 12 played 20 minutes and tallied eight points and four rebounds, along with his usual tough defense of Hawks scorers Joe Johnson and Josh Smith. But Milwaukee couldn’t hold the lead late and fell 97-92.

« I don’t know how many guys there are in the league that can on one night — D-Wade didn’t play — but he could have guarded Wade, LeBron (James) and (Chris) Bosh in the same game, and then turn right around and guard Josh Smith and Joe Johnson in the same game. » Skiles told the Milwaukee-Journal Sentinel. « There aren’t many guys who can do that. »

Though his defense was the deciding factor in his start, the Bucks ran some offense through Luc early on Monday. He took four shots in the first six minutes of the game, sinking two to help the Bucks keep pace with the fast-starting Hawks. The Prince also had two rebounds in the first, but after one Atlanta led 28-23.

After a breather on the bench, Luc re-entered the game with 4:21 to go in the half and wasted no time leaving his impact on the game. His jumper at the 4:05 mark put Milwaukee ahead 40-39. He added a putback with a minute-and-a-half to go, pushing the Bucks in front 46-45. The teams went to halftime tied at 48.
Milwaukee took leads in the third and fourth quarters, but with Luc on the bench in the fourth, Johnson got to the foul line on four separate occasions in the final four minutes to lead Atlanta to victory.

« He felt like they had a good flow out there, » Luc told the Journal-Sentinel of Skiles’ going with four reserves along with starter Jennings for the fourth quarter. « They did a good job. It was a close game. We had a chance to win the game, but Joe Johnson came back and made some tough shots and Josh Smith made that three at the end. »

Though No. 12 played fewer minutes in the second half, Skiles said his knee made it through fine.

« I’m not real concerned with that; maybe that’s something I should think about a little bit more. I don’t want him to have a setback, » Skiles said. « As long as he’s not complaining of anything to the trainers, we’ll keep on playing him. »

NEXT UP

Luc and the Bucks are back on the road tonight as they hit Houston to take on the Rockets. Tip-off is scheduled for 7 p.m. CST on FSN Wisconsin.

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Back To His Old Tricks

Luc Richard Mbah a Moute made his return to the court this weekend and his presence helped the Bucks pick up two big wins.

After sitting out eight games to rest his right knee, Luc returned to the Bucks lineup in New York on Friday night and helped the Bucks take down the Knicks. Two nights later it was on to Miami where The Prince’s suffocating defense was a huge factor in Milwaukee’s 91-82 win over Miami.

In just his second game back from injury, Luc had the unenviable task of defending both LeBron James and Chris Bosh on certain occasions Sunday night. But No. 12 takes pride in the challenge of defending a great offensive player.

« The key to winning this game was to keep their numbers down, » Mbah a Moute said. « This team is very dangerous. »


Milwaukee trapped Miami into bad spots all night, forcing turnovers on the way to a win (Getty Images).

Luc scored just four points to go along with five rebounds in 28 minutes off the bench but his defense helped the Bucks hold Miami to one of their lowest scoring outputs this season, 82 points on 37% shooting.

« His line won’t show the impact he had on the game, » Bucks coach Scott Skiles said. « He had a huge impact on the game. »

Luc did his best work on Bosh, as Charles F. Gardner of the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel wrote:

“He defended both LeBron James and Chris Bosh, and his harassing style of defense in the post helped force eight turnovers by Bosh. Mbah a Moute tried to attack Bosh’s dribble and forced several miscues that way. »

Although Luc Richard didn’t start the game, Skiles decided to go with him down the stretch over rookie Jon Leuer.

« We’ve got to get Luc out there on Bosh or Ers, » Skiles said. « Luc has done a nice job on Bosh in the past. Jon is learning. One night it’s Amare Stoudemire; the next night it’s Bosh. »

The Prince had crucial fourth quarter blocks of Norris Cole and Bosh as the Bucks clung to a lead. He also knocked down his only field goal of the game with 7:12 remaining, pushing the Bucks lead to three. The bucket started an 8-2 run that put the game away.

The win followed another huge one for the Bucks on Friday night, 100-86, over the Knicks.

Luc had six points, seven rebounds and two steals in his first game back. He recorded a big steal and a bucket in the second quarter, taking the ball away from Toney Douglas on one end and finishing off a Mike Dunleavy feed on the other side.

He added his other steal and four points in the fourth when he took it away from Iman Shumpert. With the Knicks down 12 and just 2:24 remaining, Shumpert fouled Luc, sending him to the line where he made both attempts. He added a layup a few moments later for the team’s final points of the night.

But it was Luc’s defense that again told the story as he and Carlos Delfino made Carmelo Anthony take 29 shots to get 35 points. They also limited Amar’e Stoudemire to 15 points on 13 shots. The inefficient night from their two stars was New York’s downfall as they shot just 37 percent as a team.

« That’s what I do, come in here and give this team that defensive boost, » Luc said of his return to the lineup. “It feels good to get in there and get two wins in my first games back. »

NEXT UP

Luc and the Bucks host the Atlanta Hawks tonight at the Bradley Center. Tip is scheduled for 7 p.m. and the game can be seen on FSN Wisconsin.

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Prince Makes Season Debut

It’s been a strange start to the 2011-2012 season for Luc Richard Mbah a Moute, but he finally got a chance to make his regular season debut on Monday night in Denver.

Luc made the most of his 21 minutes off the bench, scoring six points on 3-of-6 from the field and grabbing six rebounds. He also added two blocked shots and a steal, helping the Bucks stay in the game until the very end. But Denver closed the game with four-straight points to secure the victory.

« I think they turned it up a little bit, but we also made some very bad decisions offensively, » Luc said. « And defensively, we seemed to be stretched out too far and they got easy lay ups and kept getting the ball where they wanted to. They knocked down some three’s and that really got us off our game. »

Denver was a unique place to begin the season for Luc, being as the Nuggets were the team that extended an offer sheet to him when he was a restricted free agent this offseason. Of course, the Bucks matched that offer sheet, locking up No. 12 for four more years in Milwaukee.

Since then, Luc has had to deal with visa issues that forced a late start to camp. Then, after two preseason games, the Prince began to have some pain in his knee. He was diagnosed with tendInitis and missed the first three games of the season. He said he could still feel the pain in his knee on Monday, but decided to play through.

« Definitely not 100 percent but I was able to contribute some minutes, » he said. « Unfortunately we didn’t get the win. We’ll see how it feels tomorrow. »

No. 12 entered Monday’s game with 1:49 remaining in the first quarter and the Bucks leading by five. Shortly after his entrance, Milwaukee forced a turnover and capitalized to jump ahead by seven. The lead was at six, 30-24, after one.

In the second, Luc got active on the glass, grabbing four rebounds in the first four minutes and nine seconds and making his presence felt on the defensive end. Unfortunately, the Bucks offense went cold and was unable to take advantage of Luc’s work.

« I’m surprised; I don’t know what happened we were just never there, » No. 12 said. « It seemed like everything we did we would miss an assignment or something would happen. I don’t know, we just can’t afford to have those lapses on the road especially right now. »

Denver closed the gap to four in that time period, but Milwaukee picked up the pace late in the second. When the Prince got to the basket for his first bucket of the night, with 3:05 left in the half, it extended the lead to seven. They led by five when Luc came out with 2:32 to go in the second, but the Nuggets closed the quarter on a 9-4 run to take the game to halftime even at 48.

The Bucks clung to a one-point lead when No. 12 returned to the game with 2:51 to go in the third, but he quickly went about helping them build that edge. His second layup of the night, with a minute to go in the quarter, made it 71-66 and after three Milwaukee held a 74-68 advantage.

The teams traded barbs early in the fourth, but following Luc’s final bucket of the night, which put the Bucks back up by six, 79-73, Denver made a run. Over the next 6:30, the Nuggets scored 13 of the game’s 15 points to take an 86-81 lead.

Milwaukee pulled back within one with 1:55 to go and thanks to solid defense had three separate possessions with a chance to take the lead. But they couldn’t convert. A Ty Lawson layup made it a three-point game with 10.9 seconds to go and a Brandon Jennings miss moments later sealed Milwaukee’s fate. But Luc said it was the play earlier in the game that put the Bucks in position to lose and the mistakes are ones they must improve on.

« With all that stuff we still had a chance to go up, » he said. « [Stephen Jackson] had that wide open shot and if that goes down we go up one. Brandon had a good look at the end and unfortunately we made too many mental mistakes early in the game. »

Milwaukee followed Monday’s loss with another on Tuesday in Utah, 85-73. Luc had two points and two rebounds, but played just 12:30 of game time.

NEXT UP

The Bucks continue their five-game West Coast trip Thursday night in Sacramento, where they take on the Kings.

Luc was unsure after Tuesday’s game if he would be able to go on Thursday and is expected to be a game-time decision.

« I have to continue to work on this (knee) to get it back to full, » he told the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel. « Now with so many games starting, you have to get back to game shape, get my rhythm. So that’s what I’m trying to do. »

Tip-off of Thursday’s game is scheduled for 9 p.m. CST and the game can be seen on FS Wisconsin.

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