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News » BUCKS Bell bears burden of defense Versatile guard fills void left by injuries

BUCKS Bell bears burden of defense Versatile guard fills void left by injuries

BUCKS  Bell bears burden of defense  Versatile guard fills void left by injuries By CHARLES F. GARDNER

Washington - Charlie Bell has played a vital role with Michael Redd out of the lineup for most of the season with a knee injury.

The 6-foot-3 veteran has started 13 of the Milwaukee Bucks' 16 games and has proved as versatile as he was during the summer when he tried out the jobs of several Bucks fans in a promotional venture.

But now instead of milking cows or flipping hamburgers, Bell is being asked to defend against Orlando shooting guard Vince Carter and Chicago point guard Derrick Rose.

And by the way, Charlie, can you score a few points while you're at it?

Bell had 16 points, five assists and four rebounds while playing 40 minutes in the Bucks' 99-97 victory over the Bulls on Monday night.

"You've got to guard bigger, stronger guys and quicker, shorter guys," Bell said. "I'm just trying to be smart and use my head to my advantage. I try to limit them from getting the ball.

"All the players I guard are great players and they're going to make baskets. You've got to make them work for it."

On Wednesday night against the Washington Wizards, Bell could draw a defensive assignment on Caron Butler or point guard Gilbert Arenas. There's more tough duty Friday in Detroit against Rodney Stuckey and the Pistons' talented backcourt. And Sunday it will be LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers making their first appearance of the season at the Bradley Center.

Bell's playing time has increased not only due to the knee injury suffered by Redd but also with forward Luc Richard Mbah a Moute sidelined the last eight games with a left foot strain.

Mbah a Moute was able to practice Tuesday and could return soon.

But guard Luke Ridnour went down with a hamstring injury in Monday's game, which meant Bell focused on his offense a bit more.

The former Michigan State star scored a key basket on a drive in the lane late in the fourth quarter, and he was 6 of 16 from the field and 3 of 7 at the foul line.

"Some games, you're going to shoot more than others," Bell said. "Yesterday (Monday) was one of those games, with Luke being out and not having his scoring abilities. I felt I needed to step up a little bit more. I got some good looks and made them. I was just trying to be aggressive."

Mbah a Moute earned a reputation as a defensive specialist during his rookie season with the Bucks while guarding everyone from Kobe Bryant to Dirk Nowitzki to Chris Paul.

And Bell also has done the dirty work on elite scorers during his five seasons in Milwaukee.

"He can always guard his own man," said Bucks coach Scott Skiles. "We can put him on bigger people and quicker guards. He's a guy who has a knack of keeping people in front of him.

"He's very good laterally. We're not afraid to put him on anybody."

When Rose started to attack Bucks rookie Brandon Jennings and scored seven straight Bulls points early in the fourth quarter Monday, Skiles switched Bell onto the Chicago star.

Rose scored just one basket in the final 10 minutes and had shots blocked by Bell and Andrew Bogut.

Bell admitted he would be glad to see Mbah a Moute back on the floor whenever the 6-8 forward is healthy.

"It's always better to have Luc out there with his length and athletic ability," Bell said. "He really gives guys problems, and we need him if we want to be successful.

"I just do the best job I can. It's not going to be just one player. Even Luc can't stop LeBron; it has to be five guys working as a unit."

The Bucks halted a four-game losing streak with their victory over the Bulls, which avenged an 83-81 loss in Chicago earlier in the season.

"You don't want to lose five (in a row) and go in to play Washington, which is probably one of the most dangerous teams in the league, no matter what their record," Bell said. "Then we have Detroit, another one of our rivals. These are two tough games.

"It feels good to go on the road with a win and some confidence and with Andrew back."

Copyright 2009, Journal Sentinel Inc. All rights reserved. (Note: This notice does not apply to those news items already copyrighted and received through wire services or other media.)

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