The Big Apple Challenge

The eyes of the City of New York locked on newest Knick Carmelo Anthony on Wednesday night. So did Luc Richard Mbah a Moute.

Luc and the Bucks were inside Madison Square Garden Wednesday taking on the Knicks, who had just a day earlier pulled off a trade for the All-Star, Anthony. It was an electric atmosphere to say the least:

« That’s what you play basketball for, to play in this type of atmosphere, » Luc said.

It was also the second meeting between Luc Richard and the former Denver Nugget in two weeks. No. 12 was looking forward to the meeting from the moment he heard about the trade.

« It’s tough to play a player of his caliber because he makes a team so much better, » Luc said. « It’s his ability to score, and he does it in different ways. But it’s fun. That’s what we play the game for, to go against the best. Every time you go against the best, it’s an opportunity to show you can compete. »

Luc often talks about how scorers are going to get their points, but the objective is to make it as tough as possible for them to do it. No. 12 did just that to Anthony on Wednesday, forcing the new Knick to take 25 shots to score 27 points (10-of 25).

But while the Prince appeared to win the battle with Melo, his Bucks couldn’t claim the war. Anthony’s 40 percent from the field, combined with huge contributions from his teammates, were just enough for the Knicks as they edged the Bucks, 114-108.

« If before the game, you tell me Carmelo is going to go 10 for 25, I’ll take that, » Bucks coach Skiles said. « We did a respectable job on him. »

But No. 12 noted that once Anthony got it going early, it made the Knicks as a whole hard to contain:

« He got into it early, » Luc said after the game. « When a player like that gets going early, he’s hard to guard and hard to slow down. I tried my best against him and made it tough on him. But still he found ways to get it done. »

Luc got the start, his 30th of the season, on Anthony and used his floor time effectively, playing well on defense while contributing seven points, eight boards, two steals and block.

At the outset of the game, No. 12 drew a charge as he tried to set the tone for the Bucks on defense.  But Anthony’s first points just over two minutes into the game broke a 4-4 tie, and spurred a 16-6 Knicks run to take a 20-10 lead. New York led by nine after one, but the Bucks pulled right back into it in the second with the help of four points and four rebounds from Luc. They trailed by just two at intermission.

Coming out of the locker room, Milwaukee seized the lead as Carlos Delfino hit a three and Andrew Bogut followed with a hook to give the Bucks a 62-59 edge. But the lead was shortlived, and the Knicks went on an 11-2 run to seize control for good.

During that run, Luc pulled down his fifth and sixth offensive rebounds of the game, but Milwaukee couldn’t convert on either.

No. 12 shadowed Anthony for the rest of the game, but the Bucks were undone by the scoring of a plethora of other New York players, including 21 points from Chauncey Billups and 23 from Toney Douglas. In the end it was a team effort from New York:

« We’re not playing against Carmelo; we’re playing against the Knicks, » Luc Richard said. « They’re very good players and they’ve been around the league so long, they know how to play. You can put them out there pretty much on any team and they’ll be effective. And they have a really good coach (Mike D’Antoni) who is probably going to put them in a situation where they are going to be able to succeed. »

The Bucks return home this weekend, where they’ll play six of their next seven games starting with the Chicago Bulls on Saturday night.

The Bucks have had most of their success on their home court, and with Luc Richard clinging to Chicago’s big scorers, the game between the Central Division rivals is always interesting.

Tip-off is at 7:30 CST and you can catch all the action on FSN Wisconsin.