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Season In Review: 2010-11

The 2010-2011 season was a lesson in the adversity of growth for Luc Richard Mbah a Moute and the Milwaukee Bucks. With every game, every steal, every shot and every defensive stop, Luc showed progress.

Despite a multitude of misfortune, the Bucks missed the playoffs by just two games. In a season that punished many of the Milwaukee players both physically and mentally, Luc was one of the team’s most reliable performers. He was able to play in 79 of the 82 games during the season and as No. 12’s playing time increased, so did his contributions to the team both offensively and defensively.

LOCK DOWN
It was already well known that Luc Richard ranks among the NBA’s elite on the defensive end. But if the NBA learned one thing about Luc this season, it’s that his defense doesn’t slump. On many occasions, No. 12 willingly took on the challenge of guarding the best players on the opposing team and continuously forced them into tough shots and mistakes.


It didn’t take Blake Griffin long to understand how strong Luc is on D. « He’s a great defender, » the rookie said.

DOUBLE DOWN
The Prince racked up eight double-doubles this season equaling his career total prior to this year. Hard work on improving his range developed Luc Richard’s offensive game. Defenders must now account for Luc’s ability to put the ball on the ground, in addition to shooting the 18-foot jumper.

LEVEL HEADED
In his three year career, Luc has been never been thrown out of a game and has only been charged with two technical fouls. No. 12’s maturity, and his ability to lead by example even when the going gets tough sets Luc a part.

LUC’S DAY
The Bucks played three games on Sunday this season. In those three games, Luc Richard averaged 15 points and 7.3 rebounds. It was just something about Sunday as Luc also increased his minutes to 36.7 minutes per game.

GAME OF THE YEAR
Luc’s best game came on a big stage with his Bucks taking on a Knicks team that had recently acquired a second superstar in Carmelo Anthony. Alex Boeder of Brew Hoop broke down Luc’s big night:

 

The 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. »

IN HIS OWN WORDS
With some big performances, like the one against the Knicks, throughout the season, Luc could see his hard work on his game paying off.

« I think my shot is so much better with all the work I’ve put in, » he said. « 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 plans to continue to feed his offensive skill set as his career goes on.

« 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. »

IN THEIR WORDS
Those around Luc and his peers in the NBA are constantly giving No. 12 credit for all that he does. No. 12’s game is appreciated around the league:

Bucks GM John Hammond:
« Luc Mbah a Moute is a guy that’s been an important piece to our organization. Not only is he important for what he does on the floor, but for what he does off the floor. He’s a great man that [coach] Scott [Skiles] can depend on every night to go out and defend. »

Bucks coach Scott Skiles:
« Luc can surprise you with his lateral movement and his ability to contest shots. »

NBA Rookie of the Year Blake Griffin:
« He’s a great defender. »

Bucks center Andrew Bogut:
« He’s our best perimeter defender. Kobe’s going to score 20 just because of the amount of shots he gets up. We just need Luc to keep contesting every shot and make sure [Bryant] knows he’s there every shot. »

Bucks assistant coach Jim Boylan:
« We kind of broke down Luc’s shot and reconstructed it a little bit, » he said. « Now we’re back here working on it and staying consistent with our effort. We’re trying to be perfect every time we shoot the ball. Luc has been an unbelievable student. He’s been really fantastic, absorbing it and trying to bring that stuff to his game. »

AS SEEN BY
Those that follow the Bucks through their grind and write about the NBA were impressed by his defense, his offensive growth and his ability to step up when his team needed someone to carry the load.

John Hollinger, ESPN:
« He can guard any spot one through four. Mbah a Moute remains the league’s most underrated defender, not to mention its most versatile. Against Dallas last season, he guarded Dirk Nowitzki and Jason Terry in the same game; neither player did jack against him. »

Jeremy Schmidt, Bucksketball, on Luc’s offensive game:
« 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. »

Dan Sinclair, Brew Hoop
« Luc is a serious hustle guy who rebounds with his body and gets good position on the offensive boards…he’s extremely active in the flow of the offense and spots seams in the defense really well, always seeming to cut toward the basket at the perfect time. I really hope Milwaukee keeps him. »

Charles Gardner, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel:
The third-year forward continued to be one of the league’s premier defenders, taking his usual turn on the top scorers while also going against taller power forwards nightly. Due to injuries, he started 52 games, primarily at power forward. He has improved his midrange jump shot, although opponents still play him for the drive and lay off his jumper. He has a quick first step and can get around bigger post players to score at the rim

Alex Boeder, Brew Hoop, on Luc’s hot run in late March and early April
« The Prince’s defense never slumps. And now he’s scored in double-digits in nine out of his last ten games — reaching that distinction for the first time in his pro career. »

Jeremy Schmidt, Bucksketball on Luc’s hot March
« 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. »

Zach Harper,ESPN:
« LRMAM isn’t the type of guy to get his proper due defensively. However, Luc Richard has been one of the most versatile defenders while guarding just about every position on the floor and helping stop pick-and-roll plays with his quick feet and expansive wingspan. »

Jake McCormick, We’re Bucked:
Luc Mbah a Moute has gradually learned how to compliment his defensive strengths with a decent mid-range jumper, athleticism around the rim, and the ability to accelerate and maneuver into the paint to grab an offensive rebound after starting the play along the perimeter. His improvements on offense have added some value to his game, and the Bucks would be wise to bring the 24-year-old Mbah a Moute back for at least another couple seasons. After all, great defenders are never out of place on a great defensive team, especially when they learn how to stay useful on the other end of the court.

NUMEROLOGY
Luc’s 2010-2011 season can be summed up in a few crucial numbers:

1  Luc started one game at center this season.  In that only start, not only did he contribute–scoring ten points and picking up 15 rebounds–No. 12 also showed his versatility and his ability to easily guard four or five spots on the floor.

9.2  Points per game Luc scored after the All-Star break during his 2010-2011 campaign.  His improvement after the break is a testament to his work ethic.

14  Luc played his best basketball in the month of March as the Bucks played 14 games.  No. 12 averaged 10.3 points per game–his highest total of any month.

26.5  Number of minutes per game No. 12 played during the season.  It was the highest total of his three-year career.

40.2  The percentage of Luc’s rebounds (420) that came odd the offensive glass (169)

52 Games started by Luc this season. He’s now started at least 50 games in each of his three season in the NBA.

52.8  Luc’s field goal percentage against divisional opponents. His stellar shooting against his divisional foes was six percent higher than his total field goal shooting percentage.

103 Luc’s defensive rating in 2010-2011 tied for the best of his career.

6,073  That’s the number of minutes the Prince has played in his short career.  In three seasons, Luc is averaging 78 games played per season–evidence of both his dependability and ability to take care of his body during the grueling seasons.

Luc Makes One Last Stop

In the Bucks’ season finale on Wednesday night, Luc Richard Mbah a Moute was tasked with his biggest challenge of the season: defending the NBA’s leading scorer Kevin Durant.

As expected, Luc came through for Milwaukee.

Wednesday night’s game was a culmination of fortitude, perseverance and development for No. 12 and the Bucks. The group knew they would be missing out on the playoffs, but came out hungry to end the season on a high note.

With a 110-106 win over the playoff-bound Oklahoma City Thunder, Milwaukee did just that. The Bucks finished the season with wins in four of their last five games.

Though many other playoff teams were resting their starters, the Thunder were at full force for most of the game as the Prince and his teammate Carlos Delfino worked to keep Durant at bay.

Bucks head coach Scott Skiles noted Luc’s versatility as he was drawing up schemes to keep Durant from his season average. As No. 12 knows, stopping one of the best scorers in the NBA takes a team effort.

« Luc can surprise you with his lateral movement and his ability to contest shots, » Skiles told theMilwaukee Journal Sentinel. « Carlos will start on [Durant]. And Carlos has done a nice job on the Carmelo (Anthony)’s and those types of people. We don’t lose a whole lot with Carlos, but Luc is definitely unique.

« You get your best defender at the times you need him on him, » Skiles added, regarding Luc. « But not necessarily the whole game. »

The Prince’s uniqueness along with a strong team defense held Durant to just four points in the first quarter. Durant played deep into the third quarter, logging 23 minutes while Luc and Delfino forced the Thunder star into 14 tough shots. Durant finished 13 points under his season average, putting just 14 on the scoreboard.

In both the first and third frames, the Bucks started slow, scoring less than 20 points in each quarter. Luc’s defense along with a 16-foot jump shot with just four minutes remaining in the first period kept Milwaukee close as they sought to find their rhythm.

As the second quarter progressed, No. 12 and the Bucks found themselves trailing by 11 points at one point. But a Michael Redd assist, driving layup and sweet jump shot sparked a 9-0 run to end the half with Luc and the Bucks leading 46-43.

The Bucks found their groove in the last portion of the season and it was very much evident in a fourth quarter rally, which took the hotly contested game to overtime.

It was no surprise that No. 12 and the Bucks’ team defense led the comeback as they held the Thunder to just 22 points in the fourth quarter to force the extra period. For the game, Milwaukee forced Oklahoma City into 23 turnovers as the Bucks recorded a season-high in steals with 15.

In overtime, the Bucks outscored the Thunder 14-10 to grab the win. Luc finished with six points, a rebound and an assist.

The win brought Milwaukee’s season record to 35-47 and they found themselves just outside of the playoffs, finishing ninth in the Eastern Conference. But the Bucks were far from satisfied with that result and know they have to get better to reach their goals next season, as Luc told the Journal Sentinel:

« It was a disappointing season as far as the team goes, » he said. « We should have been a better team than we were this year. It’s just unfortunate the way things went, but that’s the NBA, I guess. Sometimes you have good seasons. Sometimes you have bad seasons. I guess that’s how it is.

« You can make all the excuses and say, ‘Oh yeah, we had guys out’ and all that stuff. But we look at how we played and we never really got blown (out) or anything like that. We had very few games where we got blown (out). Most of the games we lost, we lost in the last minutes of the fourth quarter. »

Luc Richard’s progression as a reliable contributor on offense while playing the most minutes per game in his career (26.6) is a true testament to No. 12’s work ethic and the leaders the Bucks have surrounded him with.

As Milwaukee left Oklahoma City, the man who runs their point, Brandon Jennings spoke the words every Bucks player was thinking:

« This was a challenging season. You can’t take winning for granted so next year we just have to come back stronger. »

RELATED STORIES

Another Frustrated Foe

Defense made all the difference once again for Luc Richard Mbah a Moute and the Milwaukee Bucks on Monday night.

It was fan appreciation night at the Bradley Center and after falling behind early, the Bucks defense made sure that Milwaukee fans didn’t go home disappointed.

The Bucks put on a fourth quarter defensive clinic, overcoming a double-digit deficit by limiting the Toronto Raptors to just 15 points in the final frame. The defense led directly to offense late as the Bucks pushed past the Raptors for a 93-86 victory.

« We got a lot of transition buckets, » Luc’s teammate Keyon Dooling told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. « Our defense always sparks our offense. When we can turn a team over and convert – converting has been a problem for us throughout the season but tonight it wasn’t. »

The win, in their final home game of the season, closed out a season sweep of the Raptors, a first for the Bucks all season, as Frank Madden of Brew Hoop noted:

« The Bucks haven’t managed a 4-0 sweep against any opponent this season, though they did win their series with the Nets 3-0. »

Luc and the Bucks started off slow on Monday night and trailed 33-25 at the end of the first quarter. Toronto’s lead would balloon as high as 11 in the second, but as the end of the half approached, Milwaukee slowly chipped away at the lead. By halftime they had cut the deficit to just five.

A Luc layup early in the third quarter trimmed Toronto’s lead to just a single point as the Bucks rallied early in the second half. They pulled even multiple times in the third and trailed by just two entering the fourth. It was then that they turned up the defense and pulled away.

After falling behind 77-71 early in the fourth, the Bucks’ defense shut down the Raptors offense and reeled off a 15-0 run to take a nine-point lead. In the final three frames, Milwaukee outscored Toronto 68-53. Bucks coach Scott Skiles explained to theJournal Sentinel how the Bucks took control.

« We did a much better job (in the second half) getting stops and getting them off the glass, » Skiles said. « That got us out in the open floor. We had some deflections and steals. We were able to go down and have a nice stretch of easy layups for a change instead of having the burden on our half-court offense to get shots. I thought if we could get a spurt at some point, we could take control of the game. »

Luc finished with four points and three rebounds while helping to tame Toronto’s forward trio of Ed Davis, Joey Dorsey and James Johnson. The three combined to shoot 14-of-33 from the field and the Raptors shot just 37 percent as a team. No. 12 and the Bucks defense also forced the Raptors into 20 turnovers.

NEXT UP
Luc’s final test of the season may be his toughest yet.

No. 12 and the Bucks close their season Wednesday night in Oklahoma City against the Thunder where Luc will match up with the NBA’s leading scorer, Kevin Durant.

For the Bucks to go out on a high-note, the Prince will have to contain Durant, who, at 27.9 points per game, leads LeBron James by 1.2 points for the scoring title.

The Bucks lost their only other meeting with OKC this year, 82-81. Durant did not play in that game while Luc scored seven points, grabbed four rebounds and dished two assists.

Wednesday’s season finale tips at 7 on FSN Wisconsin.

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Shut Down Again

When Milwaukee Bucks head coach Scott Skiles draws up a defensive game plan, at the center of it is Luc Richard Mbah a Moute.

As formidable a force as the Bucks have on the defensive end, Luc’s lockdown defense helped the Bucks secure a split on the final weekend of the regular season.

« We’ve been a good defensive team basically the whole season and our numbers bear that out, » Skiles said. « We’re one of the better defensive teams. Our trouble has been on the other end of the floor. Our guys have hung in on the defensive end. »

In the second game of a back-to-back on Saturday, with Milwaukee coming off a tough 110-100 loss to Detroit, No. 12 zoned in on Cleveland Cavaliers forward JJ Hickson. Luc put in another dominant defensive performance, holding the Cavs forward to half his scoring average and Alex Boeder of Brew Hoop noted the Prince’s season-long supremacy over Hickson.

[We] observed J.J. Hickson’s bizarrely bad averages (2.7 points on 22.0 % shooting) in three games against the Bucks this season. Tonight, Luc Mbah a Moute’s defense rendered Hickson (who came into tonight averaging 22.0 points in April) nearly invisible offensively for most of the game yet again.

He finished 3-7 shooting with 11 points, which actually stands as easily his best effort against the Bucks this season, followinggames of 1-4, 1-4, and 2-10. Hickson, it should be noted, is arguably the team’s best player.

Luc and the Bucks performed well on the offensive-end as well, outscoring the Cavs 60-44 in the first half. In addition, Milwaukee finished with 31 assists against Cleveland, tying their season high, set on February 3rd against the Golden State Warriors.

« The guys moved the ball well again and found the open man, and knocked down some shots, » Skiles said. « We definitely needed to score tonight and we did. »

The much-needed offensive game flow for the Bucks began early, as Boeder wrote:

« In the first few minutes of the game, Brandon Jennings found Gooden, who immediately found Luc Mbah a Moute, who immediately passed to Jennings for a three. These were almost touch passes. The game flowed like that. »

The Milwaukee offense slowed down in the beginning of the second half, but the early effort had already established a 16-point lead at the end of the first half. That was enough for No. 12, who ended the game with 12 points and six rebounds, and the Bucks to close out a win with defense.

Skiles said after the game that the Bucks know they can rely on their defense, but when their offense steps up the way it did on Saturday, they can beat anyone on any night.

« The guys have hung in (defensively), » Skiles said. « With our record you would think we’ve had several blowouts sprinkled in there, but we don’t. We’re giving ourselves a chance to win a large part because the guys have been pretty conscientious on that (defensive) end of the floor.

« We just have to find ways to put the ball in the basket. »

NEXT UP
Milwaukee plays its last home game of the season tonight against the Toronto Raptors.

The Bucks will be looking for a season sweep of Toronto, who last came to Milwaukee on February 8th. That night Luc scored 10 points and grabbed 14 rebounds in the 92-74 Bucks win.

No. 12 will also have a chance to give the Milwaukee faithful one final look at his superior defense as he tries to tame Toronto rookie power forward Ed Davis. Luc held Davis to just two points in the last meeting between the teams, a 104-98 Bucks win in Toronto on March 30th.

Tonight’s game tips off at 7 CT on FSN Wisconsin.

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Luc Proves His Value

As the Milwaukee Bucks prepare for the beginning of their offseason, they cannot look past the contributions of one of the most important factors in the success they did have this season.

While Milwaukee has been dogged by injuries all year, Luc Richard Mbah a Moute has stepped in to play a big role. No. 12 has missed just three Bucks games this season, his 75 games played ranking second on the team.

Over those 75 games, Luc has provided the same steady defense that has made the Bucks one of the toughest teams in the NBA to score against over the last three years. But though Luc Richard’s game has never been one dimensional, he has worked hard to refine the offensive side and make himself an even better player.

Wednesday night, the Prince showed that what was once potential, is now a reality.

Led by Luc’s 14 points and 12 rebounds, the Bucks defeated the Miami Heat 90-85.

Jeremy Schmidt of Bucksketball.com noted Luc’s quick start as a boon to the Bucks in his Wednesday night recap.

« John Salmons led the way with 17 points, but it was Luc Mbah a Moute’s scrappy style of play that set the tone for Milwaukee.  Mbah a Moute helped the Bucks off to quick start, scoring 10 of his 14 points in the first quarter, as the Bucks jumped out to a 25-15 lead after one. »

From there it was left on the defense and No. 12 stepped up in a big way on that end as well. It was the second straight game that Luc and the Milwaukee defense pushed around one of the Eastern Conference’s elite, playoff-bound offenses. Miami superstars LeBron James and Chris Bosh gave No. 12 and the Bucks D their due:

« Every time you play them, it’s going to be one of those grind-it-out tough games, » James said. « They make it very physical. … I’ve played against Scott Skiles teams when he was in Chicago and now in Milwaukee, and it’s always the same effort. »

« You have to give credit to their defense, » Bosh said. « They play good defense. … Things are going to happen like that sometimes. »

The win against a star-studded Heat team was a characteristic Luc effort, wrote Dan Sinclair of Brew Hoop:

Luc compiled the only double-double for the Bucks tonight, and he did it in typical Luc fashion: laying in easy buckets made possible by excellent off-ball movement and a few tip-ins. He also played tough defense down the stretch, guarding LeBron James on a night where it seemed inevitable that LeBron would take over.

HOT COMMODITY
The performance was another great example of why No. 12, who is a restricted free agent after the year, will be highly sought after this offseason.

Luc has shown Milwaukee that he can be a spark off the bench or the solid rock in the starting lineup. He has started 48 games for the Bucks this season, while coming off the bench in 27 games, proving an ability to do both capably.

While his offense has picked up, Luc’s defensive skills will always be what sets him apart. His length makes him a matchup problem from the post to the perimeter. He guards forwards with acumen and expertise, whether it be a power scoring four like Amare Stoudemire or a jump shooting three like Carmelo Anthony or LeBron James.

He also gives point and shooting guards fits along the perimeter. John Hollinger of ESPN notes the Prince’s defensive versatility to guard any spot on the floor:

« Mbah a Moute remains the league’s most underrated defender, not to mention its most versatile. Against Dallas last season, he guarded Dirk Nowitzki and Jason Terry in the same game; neither player did jack against him. »

Luc’s unselfishness and consistency make him an NBA commodity. Other attributes that ESPN’s Hollinger has observed include Luc’s ability to guard the ball, his length, toughness, quick feet and quick hands.

Simply put, the Prince does the little things that help his team in a big way. He’s adept at setting screens and boxing out. He can be a dominating force on the defensive glass and racks up offensive boards with his hustle.

On offense, No. 12 might not stretch defenders beyond the three-point line, but he has shot just under 47 percent from the field in his career.  This season, Luc has equaled his double-double total of his two previous seasons with eight.

Luc Richard has also played his best basketball against the best teams in the league this season. He scored 16 points and added eight rebounds in just 26 minutes of play against the Eastern Conference leading Chicago Bulls in late January.

In addition, Luc was astounding in the month of March. To start the month he dropped 19 points on the Boston Celtics while racking up seven boards. Later in the month, the Prince went on a stretch in which he scored in double digits seven straight times. For the month, he averaged 10.3 points per game.

Those around the Bucks are hopeful Milwaukee keeps him around, as Sinclair writes for Brew Hoop:

« Anyone who follows me on Twitter knows about my growing infatuation with Luc Mbah a Moute. More than just an exceptional defender, Luc is a serious hustle guy who rebounds with his body and gets good position on the offensive boards.

I’d love to see him improve his midrange jumper (only shoots 35% between 10-15 feet), but he’s extremely active in the flow of the offense and spots seams in the defense really well, always seeming to cut toward the basket at the perfect time. I really hope Milwaukee keeps him. »

His elite defensive skills with a rising offensive game attached make the Prince a rare asset in the league. If there is one player on the Milwaukee roster that GM John Hammond cannot afford to let slip through the cracks this offseason, it’s Luc.

RELATED STORIES

  • Bucks 90, Heat 85: Out but not down (Brew Hoop, April 8, 2011)
  • The Thrill of Victory Meets the Agony of Defeat: Bucks 90-Heat 85 (Bucksketball, April 7, 2011)
  • Wednesday Game Report: Bucks at Heat (Journal Sentinel, April 6, 2011)
  • Bucks Beat Heat 90-85, hurting Miami in East Chase (AP, April 6, 2011)
  • Things to shoot for (Brew Hoop, April 4, 2011)
  • Bucks truly are an enigmatic puzzle (Journal-Sentinel, April 8, 2011)As the Milwaukee Bucks prepare for the beginning of their offseason, they cannot look past the contributions of one of the most important factors in the success they did have this season.

    While Milwaukee has been dogged by injuries all year, Luc Richard Mbah a Moute has stepped in to play a big role. No. 12 has missed just three Bucks games this season, his 75 games played ranking second on the team.

    Over those 75 games, Luc has provided the same steady defense that has made the Bucks one of the toughest teams in the NBA to score against over the last three years. But though Luc Richard’s game has never been one dimensional, he has worked hard to refine the offensive side and make himself an even better player.

    Wednesday night, the Prince showed that what was once potential, is now a reality.

    Led by Luc’s 14 points and 12 rebounds, the Bucks defeated the Miami Heat 90-85.

    Jeremy Schmidt of Bucksketball.com noted Luc’s quick start as a boon to the Bucks in his Wednesday night recap.

    « John Salmons led the way with 17 points, but it was Luc Mbah a Moute’s scrappy style of play that set the tone for Milwaukee.  Mbah a Moute helped the Bucks off to quick start, scoring 10 of his 14 points in the first quarter, as the Bucks jumped out to a 25-15 lead after one. »

    From there it was left on the defense and No. 12 stepped up in a big way on that end as well. It was the second straight game that Luc and the Milwaukee defense pushed around one of the Eastern Conference’s elite, playoff-bound offenses. Miami superstars LeBron James and Chris Bosh gave No. 12 and the Bucks D their due:

    « Every time you play them, it’s going to be one of those grind-it-out tough games, » James said. « They make it very physical. … I’ve played against Scott Skiles teams when he was in Chicago and now in Milwaukee, and it’s always the same effort. »

    « You have to give credit to their defense, » Bosh said. « They play good defense. … Things are going to happen like that sometimes. »

    The win against a star-studded Heat team was a characteristic Luc effort, wrote Dan Sinclair of Brew Hoop:

    Luc compiled the only double-double for the Bucks tonight, and he did it in typical Luc fashion: laying in easy buckets made possible by excellent off-ball movement and a few tip-ins. He also played tough defense down the stretch, guarding LeBron James on a night where it seemed inevitable that LeBron would take over.

    HOT COMMODITY
    The performance was another great example of why No. 12, who is a restricted free agent after the year, will be highly sought after this offseason.

    Luc has shown Milwaukee that he can be a spark off the bench or the solid rock in the starting lineup. He has started 48 games for the Bucks this season, while coming off the bench in 27 games, proving an ability to do both capably.

    While his offense has picked up, Luc’s defensive skills will always be what sets him apart. His length makes him a matchup problem from the post to the perimeter. He guards forwards with acumen and expertise, whether it be a power scoring four like Amare Stoudemire or a jump shooting three like Carmelo Anthony or LeBron James.

    He also gives point and shooting guards fits along the perimeter. John Hollinger of ESPN notes the Prince’s defensive versatility to guard any spot on the floor:

    « Mbah a Moute remains the league’s most underrated defender, not to mention its most versatile. Against Dallas last season, he guarded Dirk Nowitzki and Jason Terry in the same game; neither player did jack against him. »

    Luc’s unselfishness and consistency make him an NBA commodity. Other attributes that ESPN’s Hollinger has observed include Luc’s ability to guard the ball, his length, toughness, quick feet and quick hands.

    Simply put, the Prince does the little things that help his team in a big way. He’s adept at setting screens and boxing out. He can be a dominating force on the defensive glass and racks up offensive boards with his hustle.

    On offense, No. 12 might not stretch defenders beyond the three-point line, but he has shot just under 47 percent from the field in his career.  This season, Luc has equaled his double-double total of his two previous seasons with eight.

    Luc Richard has also played his best basketball against the best teams in the league this season. He scored 16 points and added eight rebounds in just 26 minutes of play against the Eastern Conference leading Chicago Bulls in late January.

    In addition, Luc was astounding in the month of March. To start the month he dropped 19 points on the Boston Celtics while racking up seven boards. Later in the month, the Prince went on a stretch in which he scored in double digits seven straight times. For the month, he averaged 10.3 points per game.

    Those around the Bucks are hopeful Milwaukee keeps him around, as Sinclair writes for Brew Hoop:

    « Anyone who follows me on Twitter knows about my growing infatuation with Luc Mbah a Moute. More than just an exceptional defender, Luc is a serious hustle guy who rebounds with his body and gets good position on the offensive boards.

    I’d love to see him improve his midrange jumper (only shoots 35% between 10-15 feet), but he’s extremely active in the flow of the offense and spots seams in the defense really well, always seeming to cut toward the basket at the perfect time. I really hope Milwaukee keeps him. »

    His elite defensive skills with a rising offensive game attached make the Prince a rare asset in the league. If there is one player on the Milwaukee roster that GM John Hammond cannot afford to let slip through the cracks this offseason, it’s Luc.

    RELATED STORIES

Milwaukee’s Elite Defense

Their offense has come and gone in waves this season, but one thing the Milwaukee Bucks have been able to rely on, on a daily basis this season, is their defense.

Leading that vaunted defense has been one of the league’s best defenders, Luc Richard Mbah a Moute.

Luc and the Bucks put on a defensive clinic again on Tuesday night, limiting the Orlando Magic and their playoff-bound, high-scoring offense to just 78 points on their home floor.

Orlando shot just 38.8 percent from the field, nearly eight percent below their season average. Even more impressive the Bucks held the Magic, an inside-out team that relies heavily on the three ball to just 2-of-21 from beyond the arc, an abysmal 9.5 percent.

The Prince, who can guard four positions on the floor effectively, stymied Orlando’s versatile forwards Hedo Turkoglu and Brandon Bass. No. 12 forced the duo into nine turnovers combined.

But despite all that, the Bucks were only able muster up 72 points on their offensive end, resulting in a 78-72 loss.

After falling behind 14-0 in the first quarter, Luc and the Bucks worked hard to dig themselves out of their early deficit.

By the end of the third frame, Milwaukee trailed by just two and in the final quarter they were even able to tie the game at 72 with just over two minutes remaining.  But a jumper from Magic guard Jameer Nelson and a subsequent turnover by Milwaukee led to another Orlando bucket, which put the game away.

If it wasn’t for Luc and the Bucks’ impeccable defense, however, the game could have gotten out of hand early.

« As poorly as we played, our defense hung in and gave us a chance to win, » coach Scott Skiles said.

That has been the case in most of Milwaukee’s games over the latter half of the season. In their last 10, the Bucks have allowed a league-low 89 points per game. For the season they rank third in the NBA in points allowed behind two teams fighting for the Eastern Conference title, Boston and Chicago.

Bucksketball also notes that the Bucks have held their last 11 opponents under 100 points, while Jeremy Schmidt writes that Luc and the defense deserve better given the effort they’re putting out there every night.

« Oh defense, I pity thee.  You get so much attention, but you’re never rewarded with a victory. Orlando made just 38.8% of their shots and missed their final 18 threes.  Milwaukee keys in on the Magic’s three-point shooting every time they play and this was as satisfying an effort as they’ve had against Orlando’s shooters yet.  But again, Milwaukee’s offense cannot reward their defense with an effort nearly as strong.  So the Bucks go home unhappy, despite playing a respectable game against Dwight Howard (18 points and 17 rebounds on five of 10 shooting) and shutting them down from deep (two of 21 on threes). It’s so common that it isn’t frustrating, but it’s certainly curious. »

NEXT UP
The Bucks defense will be tested again tonight when they play the second game of a back-to-back against the Heat in Miami.

Luc has played an average of over 35 minutes per game against the Heat in three matchups this season. Look for No. 12 to lock in on Miami forward LeBron James as the Bucks fight to finish their season strong.

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

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Bucks Keep Battling

There is no quit in Luc Richard Mbah a Moute and the Milwaukee Bucks.

The Bucks saw their playoff hopes take a huge hit on Friday with a loss to the Indiana Pacers. But rather than getting down on themselves, Milwaukee showed resiliency and came back to beat the Philadelphia 76ers on Saturday.

Luc helped the Bucks earn the weekend split by averaging 11 points and six rebounds in the back-to-back matchups.

No. 12 and the Bucks bounced back from a heart-breaking Friday loss Saturday, defeating the Philadelphia 76ers, currently the sixth seed in the Eastern Conference, 93-87.

« [Our] guys didn’t hang their heads tonight, » Bucks coach Scott Skiles said. « We were able to get it into overtime and then played well in the overtime. »

The Bucks know their playoff chances are slim, but at this point, all they can do is win the games they play. The Prince in particular wasn’t going to let a missed opportunity hinder his or his teammates’ performance. Milwaukee played with intensity and passion throughout the game Saturday night.

« It was huge to get a win at home for our fans and just to show people we’re still playing hard and trying to finish out properly, » Bucks center Andrew Bogut told the Journal Sentinel. « It’s hard to play sometimes. Guys are playing banged up at the moment; we’ve got a lot of injuries still. If you’re physically game enough to play, there’s no reason we can’t go out and try to get a win. »

Luc’s went 5-of-9 from the field further showcasing an offensive improvement that isn’t going unnoticed from his head coach and the rest of the league, as Alex Boeder of Brew Hoop noted:

« The Prince’s defense never slumps. And now he’s scored in double-digits in nine out of his last ten games — reaching that distinction for the first time in his pro career. »

Not only is Luc’s scoring progressing, but his efficiency Saturday night was impeccable scoring 12 points on just nine shots.

Managing fatigue was also a key factor in Saturday night’s win as No. 12 and the Bucks were playing the second game of a back-to-back. Luc played just 26 minutes, but made the most of them on both sides.

« I thought both teams early on looked a little fatigued and we weren’t as sharp as we would have liked to have been, » Skiles said. « But we hung in there. Very, very good defense in the last 21/2 quarters and we kind of took them out of their sets. Overall, a good effort.« 

OFF PACE
Luc’s intensity was unmatched on Friday night, as he locked down perennial NBA All-Star Danny Granger.

Luc Richard forced Granger into three missed shots, a turnover and zero points in the opening frame Friday night. The Bucks used the strong defensive effort, just 14 points allowed in the first, to build an eight-point lead.

In the second quarter, No. 12 and the Bucks increased their lead to eleven, but were unable to fend off a Pacers run in the waning moments of the second quarter and trailed by seven going into the break.

The tone changed in the fourth quarter, as Luc added four of his 10 points in the first three minutes. No. 12 and the Bucks closed the deficit to just one in the final moments of the game. But they were unable to complete the comeback when a potential game winning three-pointer missed in the final moments to lock in an 89-88 Pacers win.

NEXT UP
The Bucks will play another Eastern Conference playoff team Tuesday night when they go up against the Orlando Magic.

No. 12 will look to lock down veteran forward Hedo Turkoglu and help keep Magic power-forward Brandon Bass off the boards while continuing his offensive improvement. Tip-off is scheduled for 6 p.m. on FSN Wisconsin.

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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. »

NEXT UP
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.

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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.

NEXT UP
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.

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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. »

CAN’T CLOSE IT
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.

NEXT UP
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.

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