Bucks beat Nets in Game 7 thriller, advance to Eastern Conference Finals – .

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NEW YORK (AP) – The Milwaukee Bucks weathered Kevin Durant’s NBA record of 48 points in Game 7, advancing to the Eastern Conference Finals by beating the Brooklyn Nets 115-111 in overtime on Saturday night.

Giannis Antetokounmpo had 40 points and 13 rebounds, and Khris Middleton had the decisive shot with 40 seconds left in Game 7’s first overtime in 15 years.

The Bucks held on from there when Durant missed two jumpers, the latter an airball with 0.3 seconds remaining.

Middleton added 23 points and 10 rebounds for the Bucks, who reached the Eastern Final for the second time in three years. They will play either in Philadelphia or Atlanta in a series that kicks off Wednesday night.

“I can say for sure that I have never been in a game like this, a seventh game on the road with one of the best players in the world,” said Middleton.

Durant played the 53 minutes and forced OT with a turnaround jumper who was inches away from being a 3-pointer who would have won him with a second to go.

He added nine rebounds and six assists but didn’t get enough help with injured Kyrie Irving watching from the baseline and James Harden unable to locate his shot after missing most of the first four games with a tension in the right hamstrings.

Harden had 22 points, nine rebounds and nine assists, but had 5 for 17 on the field.

“I was just going over there and trying to give everything I could and it’s just frustrating,” said Harden.

In a series where teams often did not produce the quality of play expected between the league’s two most-scoring teams, Game 7 was a thriller, the first do-or-die game that needed extra time since Dallas beat San Antonio. in the semifinals of the 2006 Western Conference.

The Bucks had a 109-107 lead before Middleton missed a 3, but the Bucks took the rebound. They then turned him around on a shot clock violation to give the Nets one last chance with 6 seconds left. They threw him across the field at Durant, who hit a spinning jumper just inside the 3-point line – maybe even above it – to tie him at 109.

Bruce Brown scored on a follow-up shot to open overtime, but neither team scored again until Antetokounmpo’s basket with 1:12 remaining. Brook Lopez blocked Durant’s shot at the other end before Middleton broke the final tie in the series.

Durant tried to extend it again, dribbling across the floor and slowing the clock before throwing a long look that turned out to be quite short.

Lopez had 19 points for the Bucks, who were eliminated in that round last year after finishing with the best NBA record. Jrue Holiday had a poor shooting night to finish with 13 points, eight assists and seven rebounds.

“These guys are great competitors. I love the way they kept coming, keeping playing, finding a way to win an overtime road game, Game 7, ”Bucks coach Mike Budenholzer said. “They all made big plays on the home stretch, and we needed all of them. “

Blake Griffin had 17 points and 11 rebounds for the Nets, who believed they had a title contender after acquiring Harden but had their three superstars on the floor together for just 43 seconds in that series. They lost for the first time at home in the playoffs.

The Nets had struggled with slow starts but managed a good one in Game 7, getting 10 points from Durant to lead 28-25 after the first quarter.

Middleton and Holiday were both 2-for-11 in the first half, combining to miss all six 3-pointers in a replay of their shooting struggles since the series started in Brooklyn.

The Nets took advantage of the Bucks’ misfires – Antetokounmpo fired a ball of air on a free throw and Lopez and Holiday hit the side of the backboard on long jumpers during an ugly stretch – to open a 51-41 lead over Harden’s three-point game with 1: 59 left in half-time.

Down six at halftime, the Bucks came out of the break with a 7-0 flurry to take a 54-53 advantage. The Nets regrouped and led 79-74 with less than 2 minutes left, but the Bucks closed hard to take an 82-81 lead in the fourth.

ADVICE

Bucks: Antetokounmpo played his fifth straight game with 30 points and 10 rebounds, tying Kareem Abdul-Jabbar’s franchise record he set in 1974.

Nets: Durant had his third 40-point game of the playoffs. The Nets have only had three other 40-point playoff games in their NBA history. … Brown had 14 points after playing just 4.5 minutes in Game 6.

N ° 7 IN GAME 7s

Durant fell to 3-2 in Game 7. although his average rose to 36.2 points. His game-entry average of 33.3 was third among all players who had appeared in more than a Game 7, behind LeBron James (34.9 PPG in 8 games) and Michael Jordan (33.7 PPG in 3 games), according to Elias.

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