When they needed a defender to lockdown an opposing superstar in crunch time, the Milwaukee Bucks turned to Luc Richard Mbah a Moute.
Milwaukee avenged a Feb. 28 overtime loss in Atlanta, taking down the visiting Hawks last night, 98-95, with stout defense in the final minutes.
No. 12 dropped two points, but he still made the difference in the game. After 17 minutes on the bench at the end of the game, he was called upon to do what he does best.
Atlanta star Joe Johnson drew Luc Richard on defense during the team’s last two possessions. Tom Enlund of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel described the plays:
« Two free throws by Salmons tied the game at 95-95 with 1:05 left, and Johnson missed a jumper over Mbah a Moute. Ridnour missed a jumper from the foul line but chased down a long rebound, and Salmons was fouled and made two free throws with 21.8 seconds left.
Coming out of a timeout, Johnson was again closely guarded by Mbah a Moute and ran the clock down before missing from the baseline. Ridnour made 1 of 2 free throws with 5 seconds left and Crawford missed a long three at the buzzer. »
Luc was on the bench when Kobe Bryant drained a game-winner over the Bucks on Dec. 16. But this time No. 12 got the call. Luc was ready to go in the time of need:
« It’s tough sometimes when you’re not in the game and your name gets called. But that’s the situation I’m in and you’ve got to embrace it and do your job. I just go out there and do what I do best, play defense. I just try to make it tough for them and it worked for us. My size always helps me out when I’m going against guards or wing players. »
PLAYOFF BOUND BUCKS
After winning 15 of their last 17, the Bucks trip to the playoffs seems inevitable, but their magic number is still eight and the Bucks know the importance of finishing strong.
At 39-30, Milwaukee has found a home in the No. 5 seed in the Eastern Conference. Luc Richard attributes the team’s success to poise:
« It’s just confidence. We have a lot of confidence. We always feel like we can win. Sometimes we start the game real well and we don’t have to fight so hard. But sometimes we start the game slow like today, but we have that confidence that we can find our way and we’ve been doing that. We don’t talk about it. It’s just a feel. Guys know the system now and they trust it. »
Luc and the Bucks have a day to come down from their big win over the Hawks before they get back to work on Wednesday night when the Philadelphia 76ers visit Milwaukee.
The Bucks have split two games with the Sixers thus far, but have a chance to clinch take the lead in the season series with a win. Tip-off is at 7:00 CST and the game can be seen on FSN Wisconsin.
Bucks Rally Behind Salmons, beat Hawks (MJS, March 23, 2010)
Salmons gets hot in fourth-quarter comeback (MJS, March 23, 2010)
Bucks Know Who to Go to (Bucksketball, March 23, 2010)