Luc Richard Mbah a Moute and the Milwaukee Bucks got back to basics on Sunday night and snapped a four-game losing streak.
Luc drives in for two of his 12 in Milwaukee’s 92-85 victory over the Nets on Sunday night (Getty Images).
Luc came off of the bench to put in 12 points, grab eight rebounds, and pick off two steals in the 92-85 victory over the New Jersey Nets. He also displayed his defense versatility, guarding multiple New Jersey players and forcing them all into tough shots, much to the pleasure of his head coach.
« Particularly in the first half, he played well, » Bucks coach Scott Skiles said of Luc. « He did a nice job, played with energy and did some of the things that he can do. He guarded a couple of different guys in the game. »
As a group, the Nets shot just 34.1 percent from the field, including 23.3 percent in the first half. The Prince was a big part of that effort, closing out quickly on New Jersey’s three-point shooters and clogging the lane so that playmaking point guard Deron Williams’ opportunities to penetrate the defense were limited.
No. 12 credited the defensive effort of the entire team as the difference in the win.
« I thought our defense was good the whole game. They shot like 23 percent in the first half and we turned it on [offensively] in the second half. Our defense stayed really good and we got that big lead and just kept it, » he said. « We moved the ball really well offensively, but our defense was the reason we won. »
With so many misfires coming from the Nets, especially early in the game as they missed 34 shots in the first half, the Bucks did work on the glass, outrebounding New Jersey by 10 for the night. They also grabbed 21 of their 53 boards on the offensive glass and tallied 22 second chance points.
At the forefront of Milwaukee’s success on the boards was Ersan Ilyasova, who put forth a monster game from the front line. Ilyasova dominated the game, both scoring and rebounding. He scored 29 points and added 25 boards, 13 of them coming on the offensive glass.
« Ers can definitely rebound the ball. The way he’s been playing this year has been big for us. Tonight again it showed. He has an ability to quick jump, get tipped balls, and get key rebounds for us. That was big, » Luc said. « I’m very impressed. Any time you get 20-plus rebounds, it’s a great effort. 20 rebounds in a game is big. It’s a great game for him and he’s a big reason why we won tonight. »
After a fourth straight loss on Friday to the Orlando Magic, Skiles felt that his team needed to simplify things. So the Milwaukee coach stressed that his team get back to basics a little bit and not try to do too much on the court, regardless of the score or the outcome of the game.
« We’re less focused on wins and losses as how we’re playing. If you play well, you’ll win enough games, » Skiles said. « This was a game where, if we played simple, things would happen for us. When we tried to make difficult plays, bad things happened. We tried to get out of that. »
Luc said that playing the game that way involves a delicate balance, but at the heart of it is team basketball and the will to win.
« You want to take your opportunities as a player, but at the same team play within the team concept and keep it simple, » he said. « Tonight we did that. »
That simplicity also helped the Bucks bounce back and put forth a strong defensive game in the return of Nets center Brook Lopez. Milwaukee never gave New Jersey a chance to get in a rhythm with the returning big man.
« We got enough stops. We had a pretty good defensive game all night, » Skiles said. « We reacted pretty well all over the floor, had some good quickness, played with some pop. »
Though the Bucks shut New Jersey down offensively for most of the game, they didn’t run away with it. When the Nets made a late run, pulling within five points with two minutes to go, the Bucks had to make key plays down the stretch to secure the victory. Keeping it simple was key to making those plays.
« We made enough plays down the stretch. Carlos hit a big shot there at the end and we got a key pass to Ersan for a layup. Just small plays for each other, team basketball, to get the win, » Luc said. « There wasn’t anybody trying to take the game over. We did it as a team. »
Luc and the Bucks are right back at it tonight as they return home to Milwaukee, where they’ll host the Orlando Magic. It’s the third meeting in three weeks between the two teams with the Bucks still searching for their first win of the season against Orlando. The game tips off at 7:00 p.m. CST and can be seen on FSN Wisconsin.