Luc Maintains, Even as Reserve

As the most versatile player on the Milwaukee Bucks, Luc Richard Mbah a Moute can take on many roles.

With the team in need of a shakeup to try and get back on track, coach Scott Skiles moved Luc to the second on Monday afternoon.

« It’s no reflection on Luc. We’ve got to do something. We’re not getting off to good starts, » Skiles told theMilwaukee Journal-Sentinel. « Luc can play the 4 obviously, play the 3. We’ll see how the game goes and go from there. »

So after starting seven straight games to begin 2011, Luc came out with the second team when Milwaukee visited the Houston Rockets on Monday.

No. 12 didn’t miss a beat off the bench, providing lockdown defense and helping limit Houston’s forward trio of Luis Scola, Shane Battier and Jared Jeffries to just 28 points on 32 shots. Scola in particular struggled, hitting on just 8-of 25 shots. For the 14 minutes Luc was in the game, the Rockets scored just 21 points.

But the shakeup wasn’t enough to push the Bucks past a surging Rockets team and they fell 93-84 in a Martin Luther King Day matinee. It was the third straight loss for Milwaukee and came on the heels of a tough to swallow 95-94 loss in Philadelphia on Friday night.

After recording a pair of points, two rebounds and a block in 20 minutes on Friday night, Luc posted a very similar line in Monday afternoon’s game, adding three points, two boards and another block in just 14 minutes. Monday also marked the fifth game in a row that No. 12 has recorded a block.

The Prince has averaged 25.7 minutes per game this season, but there has been no rhythm to how he gets them. In Luc’s five games since Jan. 7, the 6’8″ forward has played 41, 17, 30, 20 and 14 minutes respectively. But according to ESPN.com, his production hasn’t dipped much despite the roller coaster minutes.

« Though he has averaged six fewer minutes per game when coming off the bench, Mbah a Moute’s production has remained consistent whether he starts the game or not. »

However, Luc has proven that the longer he is in a game, the easier it is for him to find his game. He’s currently averaging just 4.8 rebounds per game. But averaged out over a full game, Luc would be 13th among Eastern Conference forwards at 9.1 rebounds per 48 minutes.

Corey Maggette, who replaced Luc in the starting lineup, understands what his coach is trying to do. Maggette said that, although the move may not be permanent, everyone agreed it was time to do something, as he told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel:

« I know coach is searching to find something, » he said. We need to score the ball, because we’re in so much of a shooting slump that we can never cross that bridge. We’re really trying to figure out a way to do it. »

The Bucks current streak started with a home loss last Wednesday night against the San Antonio Spurs. Luc Richard scored seven points, grabbed four rebounds, struck down a block and picked up an assist all while shooting at a 60-percent clip.

But Luc pointed to a team-wide second half breakdown on defense as a culprit for the loss, he told the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel:

« In the first half we were moving, cutting, passing the ball more, » he said. « And in the second half we could never get a stop when we needed it. They made threes. I had some poor closeouts on Bonner; he got by me. I think one possession they got three offensive rebounds. »

Though the game was lost, 91-84, it marked the ninth time in the last 10 games that the Bucks were able to keep their opponent to under 100 points. Clearly the defense is there for the deer, who now need their offense to regain its momentum.

NEXT UP
The Bucks (14-24) will look to regain their footing Wednesday night when they return home to face off against the Washington Wizards, and history is on their side.

Last season, a loss in Houston on a January Monday dropped Milwaukee’s record to 16-23. They went on to play nearly .700 ball (30-13) the rest of the way, losing just 13 more games and streaking into the playoffs.

Though the seventh and eighth seeds are still will well within reach for the Bucks, coach Scott Skiles told the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel that his team can’t count on history:

« Right now, it looks like a bunch of teams battling for a couple spots, but over time that could clear up, » Skiles said. « We certainly don’t want to bank on that, thinking this is going to go down to the end of the season, and we’re going to be battling with these other teams. »

Wednesday’s game marks the first of three versus the Wizards this season, and Luc Richard is plenty familiar with them. No. 12 averaged 25.3 minutes per game in three match-ups last season against the Wizards, putting up seven points and 3.7 rebounds per game.

Tip-off is at 7 p.m. CST and you can catch all the action on FSN Wisconsin.

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