Bucks Back in the Hunt

Luc Richard Mbah a Moute and the Milwaukee Bucks were clicking on all cylinders over the past week, starting with a big win over their Eastern Conference rivals the Atlanta Hawks.

In their defeat of Atlanta, the Bucks overcame an 11-point fourth quarter deficit and completely locked down defensively in the final quarter, holding the Hawks under 23 percent from the field.

Luc started the fourth quarter and then played an offense-defense trade-off with Ersan Ilyasova for the final minutes of the game. In that quarter, No. 12 and his teammates limited Atlanta’s scoring duo of Joe Johnson and Josh Smith to just two points each on a total of 10 shots between them. Luc also pitched in three rebounds and an assist in the fourth.

The Bucks, with confidence in tow, took their 98-90 victory over the Hawks on the road and produced similar results in Toronto.  Luc Richard led all Bucks bench players with seven rebounds against the Raptors and Milwaukee took home the victory, 116-110.

While No. 12 secured the glass on the defensive end, his teammates poured it in on the other end, shooting 55.3 percent from the field on their way to victory.

They carried that momentum into the weekend and over his last two games, Luc has shot an impressive 7-of-9 from the field. He compiled five points and five boards in a win over the New Jersey Nets on Saturday night, then added 10 points on a perfect 5-of-5 shooting, along with six rebounds against the Los Angeles Clippers on Monday night.

Luc Richard played 22 minutes off the bench in L.A., and managed to drain all of his shots, while recording a team-high point differential (+7) and rotating defensive duties on rookie Blake Griffin.

After winning three of their last four, the Bucks have climbed to a 19-27 record and currently remain just a half game behind the Charlotte Bobcats for the No. 8 seed in the Eastern Conference. The recent win streak is a product of the Bucks playing a better brand of basketball while getting healthier by the day.

This week, Milwaukee saw both their starting point guard and small forward return to the line-up. Brandon Jennings and Carlos Delfino have already provided a spark for the team and Head Coach Scott Skiles believes that now is the perfect time to strike and make a run for the playoffs, as he told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel:

« All the teams have records around ours, » Skiles said. « This is a logical time for us to start playing really well and our guys are starting to filter back right now. We’re starting to get a little bit more healthy. It’s hard to judge anybody on our team, and we don’t want to judge anybody harshly, until all our guys are back. »

The Bucks are on the West Coast this week to take on the Phoenix Suns and the Golden State Warriors on back-to-back nights.

Luc Richard averaged 10.5 points and over 10 rebounds in two games against the Warriors last year, so he should be ready and waiting for Thursday night to come.

But the Bucks will have to take down Steve Nash and the Suns first on Wednesday. Tip-off is at 8 p.m. CST and you can catch all the action on FSN Wisconsin.

Monday game report: Bucks at Clippers (JS Online, Feb. 1, 2011)
Luc Richard Mbah a Moute Splits (ESPN, Feb. 1, 2011)