Their offense has come and gone in waves this season, but one thing the Milwaukee Bucks have been able to rely on, on a daily basis this season, is their defense.
Leading that vaunted defense has been one of the league’s best defenders, Luc Richard Mbah a Moute.
Luc and the Bucks put on a defensive clinic again on Tuesday night, limiting the Orlando Magic and their playoff-bound, high-scoring offense to just 78 points on their home floor.
Orlando shot just 38.8 percent from the field, nearly eight percent below their season average. Even more impressive the Bucks held the Magic, an inside-out team that relies heavily on the three ball to just 2-of-21 from beyond the arc, an abysmal 9.5 percent.
The Prince, who can guard four positions on the floor effectively, stymied Orlando’s versatile forwards Hedo Turkoglu and Brandon Bass. No. 12 forced the duo into nine turnovers combined.
But despite all that, the Bucks were only able muster up 72 points on their offensive end, resulting in a 78-72 loss.
After falling behind 14-0 in the first quarter, Luc and the Bucks worked hard to dig themselves out of their early deficit.
By the end of the third frame, Milwaukee trailed by just two and in the final quarter they were even able to tie the game at 72 with just over two minutes remaining. But a jumper from Magic guard Jameer Nelson and a subsequent turnover by Milwaukee led to another Orlando bucket, which put the game away.
If it wasn’t for Luc and the Bucks’ impeccable defense, however, the game could have gotten out of hand early.
« As poorly as we played, our defense hung in and gave us a chance to win, » coach Scott Skiles said.
That has been the case in most of Milwaukee’s games over the latter half of the season. In their last 10, the Bucks have allowed a league-low 89 points per game. For the season they rank third in the NBA in points allowed behind two teams fighting for the Eastern Conference title, Boston and Chicago.
Bucksketball also notes that the Bucks have held their last 11 opponents under 100 points, while Jeremy Schmidt writes that Luc and the defense deserve better given the effort they’re putting out there every night.
« Oh defense, I pity thee. You get so much attention, but you’re never rewarded with a victory. Orlando made just 38.8% of their shots and missed their final 18 threes. Milwaukee keys in on the Magic’s three-point shooting every time they play and this was as satisfying an effort as they’ve had against Orlando’s shooters yet. But again, Milwaukee’s offense cannot reward their defense with an effort nearly as strong. So the Bucks go home unhappy, despite playing a respectable game against Dwight Howard (18 points and 17 rebounds on five of 10 shooting) and shutting them down from deep (two of 21 on threes). It’s so common that it isn’t frustrating, but it’s certainly curious. »
The Bucks defense will be tested again tonight when they play the second game of a back-to-back against the Heat in Miami.
Luc has played an average of over 35 minutes per game against the Heat in three matchups this season. Look for No. 12 to lock in on Miami forward LeBron James as the Bucks fight to finish their season strong.
Tip-off is scheduled for 7 p.m. CST on ESPN.