It’s been a strange start to the 2011-2012 season for Luc Richard Mbah a Moute, but he finally got a chance to make his regular season debut on Monday night in Denver.
Luc made the most of his 21 minutes off the bench, scoring six points on 3-of-6 from the field and grabbing six rebounds. He also added two blocked shots and a steal, helping the Bucks stay in the game until the very end. But Denver closed the game with four-straight points to secure the victory.
« I think they turned it up a little bit, but we also made some very bad decisions offensively, » Luc said. « And defensively, we seemed to be stretched out too far and they got easy lay ups and kept getting the ball where they wanted to. They knocked down some three’s and that really got us off our game. »
Denver was a unique place to begin the season for Luc, being as the Nuggets were the team that extended an offer sheet to him when he was a restricted free agent this offseason. Of course, the Bucks matched that offer sheet, locking up No. 12 for four more years in Milwaukee.
Since then, Luc has had to deal with visa issues that forced a late start to camp. Then, after two preseason games, the Prince began to have some pain in his knee. He was diagnosed with tendInitis and missed the first three games of the season. He said he could still feel the pain in his knee on Monday, but decided to play through.
« Definitely not 100 percent but I was able to contribute some minutes, » he said. « Unfortunately we didn’t get the win. We’ll see how it feels tomorrow. »
No. 12 entered Monday’s game with 1:49 remaining in the first quarter and the Bucks leading by five. Shortly after his entrance, Milwaukee forced a turnover and capitalized to jump ahead by seven. The lead was at six, 30-24, after one.
In the second, Luc got active on the glass, grabbing four rebounds in the first four minutes and nine seconds and making his presence felt on the defensive end. Unfortunately, the Bucks offense went cold and was unable to take advantage of Luc’s work.
« I’m surprised; I don’t know what happened we were just never there, » No. 12 said. « It seemed like everything we did we would miss an assignment or something would happen. I don’t know, we just can’t afford to have those lapses on the road especially right now. »
Denver closed the gap to four in that time period, but Milwaukee picked up the pace late in the second. When the Prince got to the basket for his first bucket of the night, with 3:05 left in the half, it extended the lead to seven. They led by five when Luc came out with 2:32 to go in the second, but the Nuggets closed the quarter on a 9-4 run to take the game to halftime even at 48.
The Bucks clung to a one-point lead when No. 12 returned to the game with 2:51 to go in the third, but he quickly went about helping them build that edge. His second layup of the night, with a minute to go in the quarter, made it 71-66 and after three Milwaukee held a 74-68 advantage.
The teams traded barbs early in the fourth, but following Luc’s final bucket of the night, which put the Bucks back up by six, 79-73, Denver made a run. Over the next 6:30, the Nuggets scored 13 of the game’s 15 points to take an 86-81 lead.
Milwaukee pulled back within one with 1:55 to go and thanks to solid defense had three separate possessions with a chance to take the lead. But they couldn’t convert. A Ty Lawson layup made it a three-point game with 10.9 seconds to go and a Brandon Jennings miss moments later sealed Milwaukee’s fate. But Luc said it was the play earlier in the game that put the Bucks in position to lose and the mistakes are ones they must improve on.
« With all that stuff we still had a chance to go up, » he said. « [Stephen Jackson] had that wide open shot and if that goes down we go up one. Brandon had a good look at the end and unfortunately we made too many mental mistakes early in the game. »
Milwaukee followed Monday’s loss with another on Tuesday in Utah, 85-73. Luc had two points and two rebounds, but played just 12:30 of game time.
The Bucks continue their five-game West Coast trip Thursday night in Sacramento, where they take on the Kings.
Luc was unsure after Tuesday’s game if he would be able to go on Thursday and is expected to be a game-time decision.
« I have to continue to work on this (knee) to get it back to full, » he told the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel. « Now with so many games starting, you have to get back to game shape, get my rhythm. So that’s what I’m trying to do. »
Tip-off of Thursday’s game is scheduled for 9 p.m. CST and the game can be seen on FS Wisconsin.
- Milwaukee Bucks Gameday: Nuggets (Bucks.com, January 2, 2011)
- Milwaukee Bucks Gameday: Jazz (Bucks.com, January 3, 2011)
- Bucks still will be short-handed vs. Kings (Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel, January 4, 2012)
- Harrington switch is no small change (MJS, January 3, 2012)
- Mbah a Moute shoots for Monday return (MJS, December 31, 2011)