After two more double-digit defeats over the weekend, the Milwaukee Bucks are officially scuffling and Luc Richard Mbah a Moute believes that turning it around is a matter of regaining their composure.
After taking an early lead against the Rockets, Luc and the Bucks couldn’t hold on to win (Getty Images).
The Bucks lost a weekend home-to-road back-to-back on Friday and Saturday by failing to sync up their effort on both sides of the court. First it was the defense that faltered as the Bucks dropped a shootout to the Houston Rockets 115-101 on Friday at the Bradley Center. Then on Saturday it was the Milwaukee offense that deserted them in a 95-80 loss to the Pacers in Indiana.
Luc said that the uneven efforts made impossible to gauge just where the Bucks are struggling most, though he noted that issues on one side of the court could lead to some on the other.
« I think it’s both ends for us, » Luc told the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel. « It puts a lot of pressure on our defense when the offense is not going well, turning the ball over. We’ve got to execute better. We’ve got to find a way to get easier points. Sometimes that helps when you play good defense because you’re able to get out in transition. »
One change Bucks coach Scott Skiles made over the weekend to try and get things jump-start was to start look at small forward, instead of power forward where he had been the starter for much of the last month. Ekpe Udoh got the start at power forward with Marquis Daniels moving to the second unit.
« It allows me to get Luc on (James) Harden, » Skiles told the Journal-Sentinel in his pre-game remarks. « And also with Beno coming back and maybe not being 100%, we may need Marquis a little more in the backcourt. »
Luc responded by limiting Harden to 13 points on 12 shots in the first half as the Bucks raced out to a lead of as much as 18. Luc added six points and a pair of rebounds in the first half as Milwaukee settled into a 58-47 advantage at the break.
But Houston came out on fire in the third, pouring in 30 points while holding the Bucks to just 14 on 4-of-20 from the field. Luc played just two-and-a-half minutes and Houston outscored Milwaukee 38-29 in the final quarter to pull away. Harden had 16 of his 29 points in the second half, many with Luc off the floor.
One night later in Indiana, Luc had a tough night, scoring just three points on 1-of-6 from the field with a rebound. He afterward that while his defensive role doesn’t change much with the position change, he is forced to adjust offensively, which can take some time.
« Mainly offensively because you get the ball in a different situation, » he said. « I’ve played both positions and every time it takes me a little while to adjust. »
But Luc wasn’t the only one to struggle offensively in Indiana. Guards Monta Ellis and Brandon Jennings combined for 33 of the team’s 80 points, but needed a combined 34 shots to get them.
Luc had to get used to playing the three again this weekend and his offense took a hit (Getty Images).
As a group the Bucks shot under 38 percent in the loss with just 18 assists to 13 turnovers. Those offensive struggles kept them from taking advantage on a night that the defense got back on track. No. 12 believes they need to have a better collective effort to snap out of their funk.
« We have to do more collectively, not individually, » he said. « Our team defense has to be much better and we have to play better offensively, too. We’ve got to execute better, run stuff that works and get back to moving the ball and making guys pay. »
The next opportunity for the Bucks to step up their collective effort doesn’t come until Tuesday when they host the Phoenix Suns at the Bradley Center.
Tip-off of that game is scheduled for 7 p.m. MST and the game can be seen on FSN Milwaukee.
- Bucks trying to break out of funk (Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel, January 7, 2013)
- The suddenly defenseless Milwaukee Bucks are in search of an identity (Bucksketball, January 7, 2013)
- When Jennings struggles so do Bucks (Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel, January 6, 2013)
- Hibbert, Pacers beat up Bucks (Brew Hoop, January 5, 2013)
- Listless Bucks drop fourth straight (Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel, January 5, 2013)
- It would be challenging to find a worse loss: Rockets 115 – Bucks 101 (Bucksketball, January 5, 2013)
- Udoh replaces Daniels in starting five (Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel, January 4, 2013)
- Bucks’ solid first half gives way to meltdown (Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel, January 4, 2013)