When the competition gets tough, Luc Richard Mbah a Moute always seems always to find another gear.
Luc did it again on Saturday night combining an outstanding defensive effort with 19 points on 8-of-15 from the field and seven rebounds. He also had a pair of blocked shots, an assist and a steal. He did his best work in the fourth, helping the Bucks outscore the Heat 35-14 to secure a 104-85 win. In his post-game wrap-up, Jeremy Schmidt of Bucksketball gave the Prince an A+ for his performance.
The Bucks have now defeated the Heat in four of the last six meetings between the two teams. Luc was afterward if Milwaukee has Miami’s number. Luc wouldn’t go far, but did admit that the Bucks’ success against the Heat is no fluke.
« We match up well against them, » Luc said. « We play them tough. »
Luc took on the challenge of guarding the NBA’s best player and refused to let him take over (Getty Images).
For Luc the match-up was with Miami superstar LeBron James. James managed to scored 26 points, but took 20 shots to get to that number. No. 12 called it a fun matchup and though he noted that it’s impossible to stop the Miami forward completely, he thought he and his teammates did a good job.
« Just not let him get anything easy, » Luc said of the plan for defending James. « LeBron is a fun guy to play against. He’s the best player in the league right now. Every time you go against guys like that, you just try to make it tough for them. I did that and it seemed like sometimes even when I was beat, I had somebody to help me. It was a whole team defense. »
Coach Scott Skiles agree that the Heat were able to play well enough defensively to prevent James from taking over and single-handedly handing them a loss.
« I thought we did a good job on LeBron, » Skiles said. « The guy’s that good. Luc, in particular, in one-on-one situations didn’t give any ground, contested his shots. »
LeBron turned the ball over six times and Miami gave it away 23 times as a team (Getty Images).
A key to the team’s defensive success all night was forcing turnovers. The Heat had 23 as a team and LeBron finished with an uncharacteristic six giveaways all by himself. Those turnovers led Milwaukee to 21 fast break points.
« That’s big for us, » Luc said of forcing turnovers. « That helps us get out in transition and make some plays. »
It started in the first when the Bucks forced Miami into seven turnovers and the Heat shot just 38 percent from the field as Milwaukee jumped out to a lead of as much as nine. The Bucks pushed that lead in the second thanks to a more effective offense, but Dwyane Wade poured in nine second quarter points to keep the Heat afloat.
« Those guys are very good scorers, » Luc said of LeBron and Wade. « Sometimes it seems like whatever you try, they find a way to get their points. We try to limit everybody else. I thought we did well on Chris Bosh tonight. When he’s playing well too, it’s tough. »
Bosh finished with just 12 points on 5-of-14 from the field but did grab 16 rebounds.
In addition to his stout defense, Luc gave the Bucks 19 points including seven in the fourth (Getty Images).
By limiting the Big Three and furthermore silencing the rest of Miami’s offense, the Bucks held a 56-44 lead at halftime. But Miami mounted a comeback in third, outscoring Milwaukee 27-14 to take the lead. James was red-hot in the frame, scoring 14 points on 5-of-6 from the field after he got Luc into some foul trouble. No. 12 noted after the game that the Bucks were aware Miami would make a run, it was just a matter of hanging in.
« Playing the defending champs, every time they make a run you have to be worried. We were playing well. We though in the second half we came out a little flat and they’re a good team, they came out in the second half and hit us first. We kind of took the blow and stood up, came back and made a run at the beginning of the fourth quarter. »
Milwaukee opened the fourth on a 9-0 run to turn a two-point deficit into a seven-point lead. Luc was in the middle of it with a big jumper that put the Bucks in front 76-71. That mini run was just the beginning for the Bucks. By the six-minute mark they were up by 12 and less than a minute later they had their largest lead of the game at 19. The Prince had seven points, three rebounds, two blocks and an assist as part of the big fourth quarter rally.
The large lead allowed coach Scott Skiles to get his starters some rest as the Bucks cruised to victory.
The momentum from the win over the Heat didn’t last long as the Bucks fell 96-94 to the Pistons in the second half of a back-to-back on Sunday night.
Luc grabbed five rebounds and scored a pair of points and a block in 21 minutes. He had nine more rebounds on Wednesday night against San Antonio to go along with four points in 19 minutes, but the Bucks lost their second straight, 117-110 at the hands of the Spurs.
Milwaukee is back in action on Friday night at the Bradley Center where they host the red-hot Houston Rockets.
Tip-off is scheduled for 7 p.m. CST and the game can be seen on FSN Milwaukee.
- Bucks vs. Heat recap: The one where everyone was great (Brew Hoop, December 30, 2012)
- Bucks’ surge packs quite a wallop (Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel, December 30, 2012)
- The Milwaukee Bucks have it all (Bucksketball, December 30, 2012)
- Bucks fall to Pistons after slow start (Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel, December 31, 2012)
- Energy shortage: Pistons 96 – Bucks 94 (Bucksketball, December 31, 2012)
- Luc Mbah a Moute, Ersan Ilyasova and the common sense starting lineup (Brew Hoop, January 1, 2013)
- When really good isn’t good enough (Brew Hoop, January 2, 2013)
- Fumbling with the fundamentals (Bucksketball, January 2, 2013)
- Duncan’s old tricks too much for Bucks (Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel, January 2, 2013)