Two Big Weekend Wins

Luc Richard Mbah a Moute and his teammates bucked a disturbing trend this weekend to pick up two big wins and get back above .500.

After allowing more than 100 points in double digit losses to New Orleans and San Antonio last week, the Bucks got their defense back going to hold the Charlotte Bobcats and Brooklyn Nets to 93 and 88 points respectively. The defensive success was a key component to both wins.


Luc spent most of his time against Joe Johnson and won the battle on both ends of the court (Getty Images).

Holding Brooklyn down in a 97-88 win was especially gratifying. The Nets came into the game as one of the NBA’s best offensive teams, but the Bucks dominated them defensively on Sunday.

The Nets jumped out to an early 11-2 lead on 5-of-7 from the floor, but after a Milwaukee timeout, Brooklyn shot just 20 percent (8-of-40) from the field for the rest of the half and tallied only 31 points, allowing Milwaukee to take a 17-point lead into halftime.

« We turned it up and once we did we were able to get stops, » Luc said. « It helped that they were missing shots early and they kind of lost their confidence on their shot.  They tried to drive and we were there to help.  We shut it out and that really helped us. »

The Nets also had trouble hanging on to the ball, which the Bucks exploited as Brooklyn committed 20 turnovers.  Luc played a season high 28 minutes in just his fifth game since his return from offseason surgery.

Coach Scott Skiles gave Luc the opportunity to get back in the habit of guarding multiple positions and was key in holding guard Joe Johnson to a season low 6 points, just two nights after he went off on Golden State for a season high 32.

« Luc can guard any of those guys, » Skiles said. « It’s big for us having him back. »

Luc was also a crucial piece on the offensive end. Despite the Bucks establishing a lead of as many as 29 points in the third quarter, the Nets surged back into the game and trailed by just eight when Deron Williams hit a three with under five minutes to go. No. 12 answered with a jumper with 4:25 remaining to make it 85-75 Bucks.

Brooklyn scored the next four points, but Milwaukee found another answer and after Luc hit his second jumper of the quarter to put the Bucks up 10 with 54 seconds to go, the game was out of reach.

No. 12 finished with nine points, five rebounds and two steals in the victory, on the heels of a similar game against the Bobcats in Milwaukee’s 108-93 drubbing of the Cats on Friday. Luc put up another nine-point night in that one, adding 3 rebounds an assist and a steal. Both Jeremy Schmidt of Bucksketball, and Frank Madden of Brew Hoop lauded the Prince for the way he attacked Bobcats rookie forward Michael Kidd-Gilchrist.

« Mbah a Moute attacked Michael Kidd-Gilchrist like he was a fifth grader in a eighth grade pickup game, » Schmidt wrote.

Schmidt then went into detail about just how good Luc was against one of the season’s top draft picks, Kidd-Gilchrist, a player who many believe is a rising star in the league.

The Bobcats rookie found himself defending Milwaukee’s forward in the post on three separate occasions in the second quarter. The first time, Mbah a Moute stepped towards the middle, faked once, faked again and when he got both Kidd-Gilchrist and another defender in the air, went underneath for a layup.

On the next possession, he air balled a hook shot, sure, but minutes later he posted, faced up, posted again and got Gilchrist in the air for the second time. Again, Mbah a Moute stepped underneath and finished, this time drawing a foul as well for a 3-point play.

He wasn’t done. Milwaukee would go back to the mismatch in the fourth. On this final post possession, Mbah a Moute took one dribble, knocking the rookie wing back a step. With him on his toes, Mbah a Moute drop stepped again, right into the defender, went up for a shot and drew another foul. This looked like a guy who feels pretty comfortable with his back to the basket and wants to take advantage of his opportunities.


No. 12 attacked the basket with ease and effectiveness against the Bobcats (Getty Images).

Luc has been widely praised for his aggressiveness in the post offensively since his return to the line-up earlier this month. But he noted that post play has always been a part of his game and that the Bucks’ stable backcourt has allowed him to use those traits more effectively this season.

« I’ve always had a post game, » Luc said. « The good thing is that Coach is trusting me with that now.  It’s good.  I feel like I can take advantage of some small guys down there, use my size and score against them.  I can go down there, get someone in foul trouble or get a basket or have a mismatch. »

Coming off a season where he started 22 of 43 games, Luc hasn’t yet entered the starting lineup for Milwaukee, but he’s ok with that. Unlike previous years when there was a dearth of talent in the Bucks’ second unit, Milwaukee has a full roster of talented players now and Luc is happy to be a part of that.

« This team has a lot of depth, » Luc said. « It’s not an easy job on Coach. But I think guys have to be ready all the time because you never know when your name is going to be called. »

For Luc, part of coming off the bench is also about making steady and meticulous progress from his injury. After missing training camp, the preseason and the first 14 games of the regular season, Luc is trying to get back into basketball shape and top form, all while trying to fins his fit in the Milwaukee system again.

« I’m just figuring it out, » he said after Friday’s win. « I haven’t played basketball in eight months. I haven’t practiced, anything. I’ve just been playing games. I’ve played basketball four times in eight months. I got a long way to go. It’s not where I’d like to be yet. I can play. The hardest thing is the conditioning and my knee. I’m just happy to be out there contributing, wherever I can. »

NEXT UP

The Bucks returned home after Sunday’s game where they will get a day of rest and a day of practice before their next game on Wednesday.

They host the Sacramento Kings in that one, looking to turn their two wins this weekend into a lasting streak. Tip-off is scheduled for 7 p.m. and the game will be broadcast on Fox Sports Wisconsin.

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