Windy City Double Up

Luc Richard Mbah a Moute found himself back in the starting lineup Tuesday night and given the opportunity to shine, he did not disappoint.

Starting for the first time since December 13th, the Bucks’ defensive guru recorded his third double-double of the season against the Chicago Bulls with 12 points (5-of-9 FG) and 10 rebounds.

Per usual, No. 12 did what he does best on the glass, grabbing six offensive rebounds to give his team crucial second chances at points.

However, the Bucks weren’t able to keep the Bulls from extending their lead in the fourth quarter, and fell on the road 90-77. As Luc told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, his individual merits mean little when they don’t assist in a victory.

« I was just trying to give my effort, » he said. « We can’t feel sorry for ourselves. We’ve got to go out there and win games; that’s what we get paid to do. We’ve got to find a way, whether it’s guys getting more alert defensively or guys working on their shots so we can start making shots. We’ve got to do a little extra to start playing better. »

He was, however, impressed with the team’s « never give up » mentality.

« We came out a little sluggish and fought our way back in the second quarter and made it a good game, » Mbah a Moute said. « Even in the third quarter we hung in there. »

No. 12 was named the top performer for the Bucks in ESPN’s box score Tuesday night, but also got some very well-deserved recognition from Frank Madden over at BrewHoop:

« Luc Mbah a Moute. This one’s pretty easy because he was the only guy who actually played well. Mbah a Moute’s work on the offensive boards gave the Bucks a shot of energy in the early going, and he mixed in a couple jumpers and some nifty slashes to the hoop in one of his better offensive performances of the season. Back in the starting lineup, and he deserved to be. »

It’s still early in the NBA season but that didn’t stop ESPN from taking a glimpse at how the end-of-season NBA awards may turn out.

While most honors were littered with the usual suspects, the Defensive Player of the Year quintet rolled out with two hard-nosed, gritty teammates, who are earning a reputation of their own.

Coming in at No. 2, is Bucks center Andrew Bogut, who was called one of the best defenders of the past decade, and rounding out the top five was none other than Luc Richard Mbah a Moute. ESPN’s Zach Harper explained his nomination of Luc:

« 5. Luc Richard Mbah a Moute, Bucks: Much like his teammate above, LRMAM isn’t the type of guy to get his proper due defensively. However, Luc Richard has been one of the most versatile defenders while guarding just about every position on the floor and helping stop pick-and-roll plays with his quick feet and expansive wingspan. »

No. 12 continues to draw the league’s best players and keeps shutting them down, so it’s only fitting that his reputation as one of the NBA’s top defenders should blossom.

Last season, the Milwaukee Bucks and Atlanta Hawks began a rivalry that has year-in and year-out playoff implications for two young teams on the rise.

The first series of the rivalry went to the Hawks, who ousted the Bucks in the first round of the playoffs a year ago. But each game over the last two seasons has been a brawl and the two teams renewed acquaintances on Monday night in Milwaukee.

Luc Richard chipped in four points, while helping contain high-scoring Hawks forward Josh Smith to just 13 points and only allowing him one trip to the foul line. But the Hawks had the keys to victory Monday night, sealing a 95-80 win.

The teams have now split a pair of games this season, with each team winning on the road. The Bucks will get another chance at the Hawks in the new year, when they head back to Atlanta for Game 3 on January 11th.

Luc Richard and his teammates have some time to regroup this week with a three-day break between games.

But after their break, the Bucks face what looks to be their toughest stretch of the season ahead.

It starts on New Year’s Day in Milwaukee when they take on the Dallas Mavericks to start 2011. The Bucks then travel to Florida where they’ll take on Miami and Orlando and return home to face Miami a second time. Luc Richard should see significant minutes in all contests as the Bucks’ try to keep some of the league’s elite scorers in check.

Saturday tip-off against Dallas is at 8 p.m. CST and you can catch the action on FSN Wisconsin.