Shut Down Again

When Milwaukee Bucks head coach Scott Skiles draws up a defensive game plan, at the center of it is Luc Richard Mbah a Moute.

As formidable a force as the Bucks have on the defensive end, Luc’s lockdown defense helped the Bucks secure a split on the final weekend of the regular season.

« We’ve been a good defensive team basically the whole season and our numbers bear that out, » Skiles said. « We’re one of the better defensive teams. Our trouble has been on the other end of the floor. Our guys have hung in on the defensive end. »

In the second game of a back-to-back on Saturday, with Milwaukee coming off a tough 110-100 loss to Detroit, No. 12 zoned in on Cleveland Cavaliers forward JJ Hickson. Luc put in another dominant defensive performance, holding the Cavs forward to half his scoring average and Alex Boeder of Brew Hoop noted the Prince’s season-long supremacy over Hickson.

[We] observed J.J. Hickson’s bizarrely bad averages (2.7 points on 22.0 % shooting) in three games against the Bucks this season. Tonight, Luc Mbah a Moute’s defense rendered Hickson (who came into tonight averaging 22.0 points in April) nearly invisible offensively for most of the game yet again.

He finished 3-7 shooting with 11 points, which actually stands as easily his best effort against the Bucks this season, followinggames of 1-4, 1-4, and 2-10. Hickson, it should be noted, is arguably the team’s best player.

Luc and the Bucks performed well on the offensive-end as well, outscoring the Cavs 60-44 in the first half. In addition, Milwaukee finished with 31 assists against Cleveland, tying their season high, set on February 3rd against the Golden State Warriors.

« The guys moved the ball well again and found the open man, and knocked down some shots, » Skiles said. « We definitely needed to score tonight and we did. »

The much-needed offensive game flow for the Bucks began early, as Boeder wrote:

« In the first few minutes of the game, Brandon Jennings found Gooden, who immediately found Luc Mbah a Moute, who immediately passed to Jennings for a three. These were almost touch passes. The game flowed like that. »

The Milwaukee offense slowed down in the beginning of the second half, but the early effort had already established a 16-point lead at the end of the first half. That was enough for No. 12, who ended the game with 12 points and six rebounds, and the Bucks to close out a win with defense.

Skiles said after the game that the Bucks know they can rely on their defense, but when their offense steps up the way it did on Saturday, they can beat anyone on any night.

« The guys have hung in (defensively), » Skiles said. « With our record you would think we’ve had several blowouts sprinkled in there, but we don’t. We’re giving ourselves a chance to win a large part because the guys have been pretty conscientious on that (defensive) end of the floor.

« We just have to find ways to put the ball in the basket. »

Milwaukee plays its last home game of the season tonight against the Toronto Raptors.

The Bucks will be looking for a season sweep of Toronto, who last came to Milwaukee on February 8th. That night Luc scored 10 points and grabbed 14 rebounds in the 92-74 Bucks win.

No. 12 will also have a chance to give the Milwaukee faithful one final look at his superior defense as he tries to tame Toronto rookie power forward Ed Davis. Luc held Davis to just two points in the last meeting between the teams, a 104-98 Bucks win in Toronto on March 30th.

Tonight’s game tips off at 7 CT on FSN Wisconsin.