Can’t Fault the Fight

There’s no mistaking the effort that Luc Richard Mbah a Moute and the Milwaukee Bucks are putting into the end of this season.

The Bucks battled with the Orlando Magic for 53 minutes on Wednesday, just one night after a 48-minute tussle with the Atlanta Hawks.

But neither battle could produce what the Bucks need most: a victory.

« We played desperate and we played with a lot of intensity, » Luc told theMilwaukee Journal Sentinel after the 93-89 overtime loss to Orlando. « We pretty much put everything out on the table trying to get this win.

« It’s unfortunate we had a couple rebounds that we didn’t get when we should have got them. It was really tough for us. »

Luc played 45 of the 53 minutes in the game, though that’s not even his season-high, (47 vs. Charlotte) and for each one of those 45 minutes he was out there giving his all.

With center Andrew Bogut out of the lineup, No. 12’s defensive assignment varied from Orlando’s hulking big men Dwight Howard and Brandon Bass to lengthy shooters Ryan Anderson and Hedo Turkoglu.

While spreading himself thin on D, Luc still managed a solid offensive game with 10 points on 5-of-9 from the field and four assists.

Alex Boeder of Brew Hoop gave No. 12 kudos for his night.

« Big ups to Mbah a Moute for sharing a starting frontline with a rookie power forward playing center who failed to grab a rebound and fouled out in 17 minutes against Dwight Howard. In addition to the even more strenuous defensive duties, The Prince hit a couple jumpers to start the fourth quarter, pushed four assists, and did not turn the ball over in 44 minutes. »

All 10 of the Prince’s points came in the second half as Milwaukee fought its way back from a nine-point deficit to take the lead. His first bucket of the game, with just over five minutes to go in the third, made it a six-point game. He added another deuce exactly two minutes later to cut the deficit to two. John Salmons followed with a jumper, tying the game at 60.

Those baskets contributed to Milwaukee’s 10-1 run to close the third quarter with a 64-61 lead. Orlando scored the first four of the fourth quarter to take the lead back, but Luc wouldn’t allow that to last.

The Prince pushed Milwaukee ahead 66-65 with a jumper and after Howard tied it at 66, Luc drove in for a reverse layup to get the Bucks the lead back. Milwaukee’s next two buckets came off dishes from No. 12, with Brandon Jennings and Salmons each keeping the Bucks in front.

The Magic, however, followed with a 9-2 run to take a five-point lead late in the game. But two crucial Orlando fouls allowed the Bucks to sink five straight free throws to send the game to overtime.

Luc answered a 4-0 run by the Magic to start overtime with a slam to cut Orlando’s edge to two, but the Bucks could never surge to the lead and fell short in the end. Coach Scott Skiles said the game came down to Milwaukee having no answer for Howard’s size. But the coach told the Journal Sentinel that he was proud of the effort:

« I thought the guys were pretty smart about it and tried to hang in (against Howard), » Skiles said. « Obviously, he’s got everybody overmatched with his strength and athleticism. We tried to hold our ground when we could hold our ground. We tried to foul at pretty smart times. It put fouls on us and that’s what happens.

« Overall, the guys did a nice job. We just weren’t able to get it. »

The loss meant a missed opportunity for the Bucks. Both the teams in front of Milwaukee in the race for the eighth seed in the East, Indiana and Charlotte, lost on Wednesday as well. Those results leave the Bucks 2.5 games out of that eighth spot with 15 games to play.

The Bucks have two chances to jump up in the race this weekend when they host the New Jersey Nets and New York Knicks on Friday and Sunday respectively.

Tip-off with the Nets is scheduled for 7:30 CST and the game can be heard on AM 620 WTMJ.

The Bucks are back on TV Sunday against the Knicks and the 2 p.m. CST tip can be seen on FSN Wisconsin.