When the Milwaukee Bucks play against the best scorers in the NBA, the task falls to Luc Richard Mbah a Moute to stifle those stars.
So when the Los Angeles Lakers came to Milwaukee on Tuesday night, as expected, Luc was one of the players Milwaukee Head Coach Scott Skiles appointed to help contain Kobe Bryant.
With the help of John Salmons, Luc did everything he could to keep the player who once referred to himself as ‘The Black Mamba’ from getting to the hoop.
Before the game, teammates agreed that Luc Richard, who has been asked to guard all comers — from the fast and shifty Monta Ellis to the large and powerful Roy Hibbert — was the team’s best chance at containing Kobe. Bucks center Andrew Bogut told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel why No. 12 was the best man for the job:
« He’s our best perimeter defender. Kobe’s going to score 20 just because of the amount of shots he gets up. We just need Luc to keep contesting every shot and make sure [Bryant] knows he’s there every shot. »
As Bogut expected, Bryant took a high-volume of shots, 23 in all, making only 10 and Luc and Co. held him to an 0-fer from the perimeter. Meanwhile, the Bucks went on the attack and took a 59-57 lead into halftime.
But Milwaukee couldn’t hold on, though in the end, it wasn’t Bryant who beat the Bucks. LA got a huge fourth quarter from Shannon Brown, who finished with 21 points off the bench, including 16 in the fourth on 6-6 shooting and 4-of-4 from three and the Lakers pulled away, defeating the home team 118-107.
Coming into the game, Luc Richard understood that his assignment would be a difficult one, after all, it wasn’t the first time his team called on him to guard one of the league’s best players.
But for No. 12, Bryant is a completely different animal, as the Prince told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel:
« He’s the best at what he does. I feel every team has a player like that who can score the ball. But Kobe does a lot of other things. He’s got a motor and he gets his teammates involved even when he’s not scoring.
« We’ve just got to do it as a team. He has the ability to turn it on whenever he wants to. You’ve got to come out and make it tough on him no matter what. Sometimes it feels like he can go 0 for 10 in the first half and 15 for 20 in the second half. »
Most players might see guarding the league’s best as a daunting task. But not only has Luc been up to the task since being drafted by the Bucks, he’s also been taking on some of the league’s stars since back when he was wearing No. 23 at UCLA.
Luc can recall several occasions in which NBA players would workout on the UCLA campus and go one-on-one with he and his Bruin teammates, as he told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel:
« I was fortunate enough to be at UCLA when we had a lot of pros come in (during the summer). To play with those guys, Kobe, Paul Pierce, Baron Davis, you name it. It was intimidating, but it was more fun. Those guys were our role models because we saw them on TV. »
So when another star comes to Milwaukee, or the Bucks enter the arena of one of the league’s best, Luc will be up to the challenge.
The Bucks look to start a new winning streak and climb back to the .500 mark when they head East on Friday night to take on Elton Brand and the Philadelphia 76ers.
Philadelphia is currently undermanned as the team’s best player, Andre Iguodala, makes his way back from an achilles injury. Last season, Luc averaged more than six rebounds per game against the Sixers, so expect No. 12 to be a force on the glass in the City of Brotherly Love on Friday.
Tip-off is scheduled for 6:00 p.m. CST and, though the game will not be televised locally, you can listen live on 620 AM WTMJ.
Bucks mete out detail to guard Bryant (JS Online, Nov. 15, 2010)