On a tough night for the Milwaukee Bucks both on and off the court, it was Luc Richard Mbah a Moute who was there to pick up the pace.
Just hours after finding out that their sparkplug, point guard Brandon Jennings, will miss 4-6 weeks after foot surgery, the Bucks were on the wrong end of a 106-80 loss Monday night to the Trailblazers in Portland.
But No. 12 never gave up on his team, finishing with 10 points and a team-high seven rebounds. Coming off the bench for the third straight game, Luc also recorded a team-high 34 minutes.
With his hard-nosed play in Portland, Luc garnered recognition from Frank Madden of Brew Hoop:
« Luc Mbah a Moute. Not a huge line —10 pts on nine shots, seven rebs in 34 minutes, but Mbah a Moute was the only other guy who seemed to be channeling his energies in a vaguely productive manner. »
But Luc wasn’t satisfied with a solid individual performance and believes the Bucks need to be stronger in all phases of the game, as he told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel:
« It shouldn’t have happened. They have players who were hungry, hungrier than us tonight, » Luc said. « All the offensive rebounds, loose balls, they were on it and we weren’t. They just really hit us in the mouth and we couldn’t recover. »
Luc knows that going forward, if the team wants to win without Jennings, they’re going to need to play a lot harder as a team.
« The whole team, we didn’t play hard, » Mbah a Moute told the Journal-Sentinel. « With Brandon out, he’s our leading scorer. We have to go out there and play harder. If we don’t play with urgency we’re going to have tough nights, tough games. »
« GUTSY » ON DEFENSE
Luc’s tight defense continues to impress and it nearly helped the Bucks knock off the league’s best team last week.
Luc Richard Mbah a Moute was on hero duty Wednesday night in San Antonio against the Spurs looking to preserve a tie game and send Milwaukee to an extra frame. But instead he was the victim of a tough call on the final shot that gave San Antonio the victory.
With time winding down in the fourth quarter, Luc Richard was given the assignment to take on Spurs guard Manu Ginobili. No. 12 provided the Bucks with superb defense, staying on the dangerous San Antonio shooter the whole possession.
However, at the moment, Ginobili took a step-back jumper that fell through the net and stunned the Bucks as time expired.
Milwaukee Bucks Head Coach Scott Skiles was supportive of Luc Richard’s gutsy ‘D’ on the final shot and said he thought Ginobili traveled on the play, as he explained to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel:
« It was great D. He made him travel. We just looked at it about five times (on video), » Skiles said. « He hit a great shot. Luc had great D on him. But we have to get a good quality shot right there and we couldn’t get one. »
Kurt Helin of Pro Basketball Talk also believed that Ginobil’s shot was indeed a travel and the Bucks should have at least gotten a chance in overtime:
« Ginobili drives left (of course he does) with Luc Richard Mbah a Moute on him, gets to the elbow, plants both feet, steps back and plants both feet again, elevates and hits the shot. That is a textbook travel. Even in the NBA. That was no bunny hop on the drive, that was both feet replanting. Bucks coach Scott Skiles said so after the game to the media, calling it a travel. »
Judge for yourself by watching the video at PBT here.
It was an unfortunate ending for Luc Richard, who chipped in two points and five rebounds off the bench.
Milwaukee tried to bounce back from Wednesday’s loss, briefly returning home to the Bradley Center to face the Utah Jazz on Saturday. No. 12 played 13 minutes off the bench, recording two rebounds.
At one point the Bucks held a double-digit lead over the Jazz, but were unable to hold on against one of the best fourth-quarter teams in the league.
It doesn’t get any easier for the Bucks, who play another one of the West’s best tonight when they head to Los Angeles to take on the World Champion Lakers.
Luc knows it will take their all for the Bucks to knock off the champs.
« The Lakers are the best team in the league – champions, » he said. « If we come out with the same type of effort, we’re going to get the same type of result, even worse. We need to come out with a different attitude and step it up. »
After outscoring three of the five Bucks’ starters Monday night, No. 12 will look to keep that roll going tonight in LA. Tip-off is scheduled for 9:30 p.m. CST and the game can be seen on FSN Wisconsin.
Blazers 106, Bucks 80: Sorry effort and execution doom Milwaukee (Brew Hoop, Dec. 21, 2010)
Latest defeat really hurts Bucks (Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Dec. 20, 2010)
Did Manu Ginobili travel on his game winner? Yes he did. (Pro Basketball Talk, Dec. 16, 2010)
Ginobili buzzer-beater saves Spurs (Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Dec. 15, 2010)