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News » BUCKS NOTES Mbah a Moute to start opener Delfino must serve 1-game suspension

BUCKS NOTES Mbah a Moute to start opener Delfino must serve 1-game suspension

BUCKS NOTES  Mbah a Moute to start opener  Delfino must serve 1-game suspension By TOM ENLUND

St. Francis - Luc Richard Mbah a Moute will start at small forward for the Milwaukee Bucks in their regular-season opener Friday night at Philadelphia, provided he is not sidelined by a bruised right knee.

Carlos Delfino would have started, with Mbah a Moute coming in off the bench, but Delfino will be serving a one-game suspension for fighting in a preseason game against Detroit.

While having Mbah a Moute in the starting lineup would not necessarily be a bad thing, it would take away quite a bit of coach Scott Skiles' flexibility off the bench.

"I'm really not afraid to do anything with Luc," said Skiles. "I'm not afraid to start him at (small forward or power forward). I'm not afraid to bring him off the bench at (shooting guard, small forward or power forward)."

Skiles pointed to Friday night's game against Detroit, when the Pistons' guards were having their way with the Bucks , as an example.

"The Detroit guards have gotten after us pretty good," said Skiles. "We didn't do it much during exhibition, but Mbah a Moute is a guy who can guard one of those guards. I like his versatility all over the place."

Mbah a Moute suffered the bruise in practice Sunday when he bumped knees with center Francisco Elson. Mbah a Moute has practiced all week but said after Wednesday's workout that the knee was still bothering him.

"I went through practice today but it was a little tough with the cutting and everything, so we'll see how it goes (Thursday)," he said. "I'll try and go again (Thursday), get more contact and see how it goes and then see how it feels on Friday."

Mbah a Moute played in all 82 games last season as a rookie and started in 52, so he is accustomed to either starting or coming in off the bench. He said if he started Friday, he would be ready to go from the opening tip.

"I'll do what I'm supposed to do all the time," he said. "Bring that energy right off the bat. Defensively, go out there and give that defensive presence from the start of the game. So if I'm able to go, I'll definitely try to go out there and give my best and get us in a good spot defensively and give us a chance to win."

The Bucks remain hopeful that Mbah a Moute will be able to play.

"He went today again so as long as nothing flares up overnight or anything," Skiles said.

Staying focused: Skiles pointed to some intangibles as things he likes about his team so far.

"It's really been a hard-working team," he said. "The guys have been focused. At this point last year, we were still going over and over things that we were doing the first three days of training camp. We've been able to move on. The retention of the guys has been much better.

"But we have a lot of new faces. . . . There are a lot of things we have to do to win a game. To win a lot of games, we're going to have to do them consistently."

Ready to go: After a five-week exhibition season capped off by five straight days of practice this week, are the Bucks going to be ready for a regular-season game Friday?

"Definitely," said forward Kurt Thomas. "We're getting tired of playing against each other."

Pizza, pizza: To help celebrate the team's home opener Saturday, the Bucks are offering free Palermo's Pizza to fans from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. Thursday at the Bradley Center lobby.

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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