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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