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News » BUCKS Scant rest for the weary Mbah a Moute worn out

BUCKS Scant rest for the weary Mbah a Moute worn out

BUCKS  Scant rest for the weary  Mbah a Moute worn out By TOM ENLUND

A weary Luc Richard Mbah a Moute sat hunched over at his dressing stall in the Milwaukee Bucks locker room after last week's victory over Toronto, both feet submerged in a bucket of ice and ice packs taped to both knees.

After guarding Cleveland's LeBron James, Boston's Paul Pierce, and Toronto's Hedo Turkoglu and Chris Bosh, it had been a long week for the second-year defensive specialist.

"And it's not over yet," Mbah a Moute said Wednesday.

No it wasn't. Not with Brandon Roy and the Portland Trail Blazers visiting the Bradley Center on Saturday night.

"And then it's Kobe (Bryant) and LeBron again," said Mbah a Moute, looking to the week ahead.

Welcome to Luc's World, where there's not a premier perimeter player he has not encountered and spent some quality time with on the court during his short time in the NBA.

But this has been a rugged stretch, even by Mbah a Moute's standards, as the Bucks have attempted to get back on the winning track after seeing their record dip to two games below .500 last week.

Mbah Moute said there are a number of areas that need to be cleaned up if the Bucks are going to return to their consistent winning ways of earlier this season but that defense remains the key.

"Definitely," said Mbah a Moute. "That's why we have slippage. We allow too many points per game. We don't play the right way like we used to when we were winning.

"But teams have made it tough on us, too. We play good teams that guard us different. They know some of our players now, so they adjust. We've got to do a better job on offense too, executing. But defense, no question, is our No. 1 priority."

Saturday's game against Portland was the fifth for Mbah a Moute after he missed nine with a left-foot sprain. Mbah a Moute said the ankle still isn't 100% and that he isn't back in "Basketball shape" yet, which accounts for his fatigue after the Toronto game.

Mbah a Moute came off the bench in his first game back, Dec. 4 in Detroit, but has started the last four. On the season, he has started in six games and has come off the bench in seven. Mbah a Moute's versatility is one of his strong points.

"Off the bench, he's sort of there and ready for anybody that might get going on the other team," said coach Scott Skiles. "You can bring him in as a designated defender like that. But you can also start him and can get him out earlier and then have the ability to bring him back in. Luc doesn't have a problem doing either one, which is good. It's good to have him back."

Said Mbah a Moute, "I've learned how to adjust to both. When starting, you have to bring the energy right away. But when you don't start, you get the chance to see it and know where and how you can impact the game. When you start, sometimes it's better because you get a guy right away and you can set the tone for the whole game. When you come off the bench, sometimes he's already going and you have to try and stop him. But it really doesn't matter."

While Mbah a Moute said it's never easy guarding the caliber of players he goes up against regularly, he has become more familiar with the LeBrons and Pierces of the NBA world since he has now played against them several times. Mbah a Moute keeps a mental "book" on the players he faces and jots down notes after games that he can refer to the next time he faces them.

Mbah a Moute also reviews game tapes with assistant coach Bill Peterson in an effort to boost the Bucks on the defensive end.

"We're not where we want to be defensively," said Mbah a Moute. "We're still striving to be there."

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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