Playoff-Bound Bucks

For Luc Richard Mbah a Moute and the Milwaukee Bucks, Tuesday was a night to remember.

When they defeated the Chicago Bulls, 79-74, the Bucks secured a spot in the playoffs for the first time since the 2005-06 season. That made Milwaukee the sixth Eastern Conference team to clinch.

Luc logged four boards and a pair of steals in 16 minutes.

STEPPING UP
The good news was welcomed, particularly since center Andrew Bogut was sidelined just days earlier. With the team’s starting center out for the season, Luc Richard will be looked upon to pick up some of the slack.


Luc holds off Chicago’s Taj Gibson Tuesday night (Getty Images).

Said Charles F. Gardner of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel:

« Starting power forward Luc Richard Mbah a Moute, often undersized at 6-8, also will be counted on to help even more with the rebounding chores, along with small forward Delfino. »

DIFFERENCE MAKER
No. 12 played a large role in the Bucks road to the playoffs, bursting on to the scene this year as a defensive specialist, and receiving perhaps the biggest compliment of his NBA career in early January. On Jan. 2, Luc held Kevin Durant to just 10 points after halftime in a 103-97 overtime win.

Afterward, Durant told the Associated Press:

« Nothing different from the first half, » Durant said after being hounded by Milwaukee defensive specialist Luc Richard Mbah a Moute most of the game. « He’s tough to try and score on. »

More recently, Luc locked down on the always dangerous Joe Johnson at the end of a very close game. With just 21 seconds left, Luc Richard entered the game for the sole reason of stopping Johnson. He forced Johnson to take a bad shot and the Bucks took the win, 98-95, said No. 12 to the AP:

« It’s tough [as] he’s got all the tricks with the way he was scoring. We just tried to make it tough for him, make him take tough shots and I did that. »

GETTING HIS DUE
Last week, ESPN’s Maurice Brooks had Luc Richard in fourth place for his personal Defensive Player of the Year list.

This week John Hollinger took a stab at choosing his first, second and third All-Defensive teams on the year, and Luc made an appearance there as well.

Third team: Luc Richard Mbah a Moute, Milwaukee (-2.90)

He can check 3s or 4s, inside or out, and remains the league’s most underrated defensive player. Right now the only thing preventing him from ranking higher is his offense.

Hollinger went on to say that No. 12 could be an All-Defensive Team fixture for the next decade.

NEXT UP

The Bucks have clinched the playoffs, but with five games left on the schedule, the No. 5 seed in the Eastern Conference is still up for grabs. Milwaukee returns home tonight to take on the New Jersey Nets, who sport an NBA-worst 11-66 record.

Luc Richard is averaging 7.5 points and 10.5 rebounds in two games against the Nets this year, and the Bucks can take the season sweep with a victory. Game time is 7:00 CST and you can see all the action on FSN Wisconsin.

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Oklahoma City vs. Milwaukee-Recap (ESPN, Jan. 2, 2010)
http://sports.espn.go.com/nba/recap?gameId=300102015
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All-Defensive Team Picks (ESPN, April 6, 2010)
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