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Durant's 48 not enough; Bucks edge Nets in OT

by The Associated. Press | June 20, 2021 at 3:16 a.m.
Brooklyn Nets' Kevin Durant (7) reacts after missing a shot as Milwaukee Bucks' Khris Middleton (22) and Jrue Holiday (21) talk to their bench during overtime of Game 7 of a second-round NBA basketball playoff series Saturday, June 19, 2021, in New York. (AP Photo/Frank Franklin II)

NEW YORK -- The Milwaukee Bucks withstood Kevin Durant's NBA-record 48 points in a Game 7, advancing to the Eastern Conference finals by beating the Brooklyn Nets 115-111 in overtime Saturday night.

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

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

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

"I can say for sure I've never been in a game like this, a Game 7 on the road with one of the best players in the world," Middleton said.

Durant played all 53 minutes and forced OT with a turnaround jumper that was just inches from being a three-pointer that would have won it with a second left.

He added nine rebounds and six assists, but didn't have 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 right hamstring tightness.

Harden had 22 points, 9 rebounds and 9 assists, but was 5 for 17 from the floor.

"I was just going out there and trying to give everything I can and it's just frustrating," Harden said.

In a series where the teams often didn't produce the quality of play that was anticipated between the league's two highest-scoring teams, Game 7 was a thriller, the first do-or-die game to need extra time since Dallas beat San Antonio in the 2006 Western Conference semifinals.

The Bucks had a 109-107 lead before Middleton missed a three-pointer, but the Bucks got the rebound. They then turned it over on a shot clock violation to give the Nets a final chance with 6 seconds left. They threw it in across the court to Durant, who hit a spinning, turnaround jumper from just inside the three-point line -- maybe even on top of it -- to tie it at 109.

Bruce Brown scored on a follow shot to open overtime but neither team scored again until Antetokounmpo's basket with 1:12 to play. Brook Lopez blocked Durant's shot on the other end before Middleton broke the final tie of the series.

Durant tried to prolong it again, dribbling up the floor and running the clock down before launching a long look that came up well short.

Lopez had 19 points for the Bucks, who were knocked out in this round last year after finishing with the NBA's best record. Jrue Holiday shook off a poor shooting night to finish with 13 points, 8 assists and 7 rebounds.

"Those guys, they're great competitors. I love the way they just kept coming, keep playing, find a way to win an overtime game on the road, Game 7," Bucks Coach Mike Budenholzer said. "They all made big plays down the stretch, and we needed every one of them."

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

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

Middleton and Holiday were both 2 for 11 in the first half, combining to miss all six three-pointers in a rehash of their shooting struggles from when the series began in Brooklyn.

The Nets capitalized on the Bucks' misfires -- Antetokounmpo shot an airball on a free throw and Lopez and Holiday hit the side of the backboard on long jumpers during one ugly stretch -- to open a 51-41 lead on Harden's three-point play with 1:59 left in the half.

Down six at halftime, the Bucks came out of the break with a 7-0 burst to grab a 54-53 edge. The Nets regrouped and were ahead 79-74 with under 2 minutes remaining, but the Bucks closed strong to take an 82-81 lead to the fourth.

At a glance

SATURDAY’S GAME

Milwaukee 115, Brooklyn 111, OT

Milwaukee wins series 4-3.

TODAY’S GAMES All times Central

LA Clippers at Phoenix, 2:30 p.m.

First game of series

Atlanta at Philadelphia, 7 p.m.

Series tied 3-3.

Milwaukee Bucks' Brook Lopez, right, celebrates with P.J. Tucker, left, and other teammates during overtime of Game 7 of a second-round NBA basketball playoff series Saturday, June 19, 2021, in New York. (AP Photo/Frank Franklin II)
Milwaukee Bucks' Brook Lopez, right, celebrates with P.J. Tucker, left, and other teammates during overtime of Game 7 of a second-round NBA basketball playoff series Saturday, June 19, 2021, in New York. (AP Photo/Frank Franklin II)
Milwaukee Bucks' Giannis Antetokounmpo (34) celebrates wth Pat Connaughton (24) after Game 7 of a second-round NBA basketball playoff series against the Brooklyn Nets, Saturday, June 19, 2021, in New York. (AP Photo/Frank Franklin II)
Milwaukee Bucks' Giannis Antetokounmpo (34) celebrates wth Pat Connaughton (24) after Game 7 of a second-round NBA basketball playoff series against the Brooklyn Nets, Saturday, June 19, 2021, in New York. (AP Photo/Frank Franklin II)
Milwaukee’s Giannis Antetokounmpo shoots over Brooklyn’s Blake Griffin on Saturday during the Bucks’ 115-111 overtime victory over the Nets in Game 7 of their NBA Eastern Conference semifinal in Brooklyn.
(AP/Frank Franklin II)
Milwaukee’s Giannis Antetokounmpo shoots over Brooklyn’s Blake Griffin on Saturday during the Bucks’ 115-111 overtime victory over the Nets in Game 7 of their NBA Eastern Conference semifinal in Brooklyn. (AP/Frank Franklin II)
Milwaukee Bucks' Giannis Antetokounmpo, upper right, drives past Brooklyn Nets' Joe Harris during the second half of Game 7 of a second-round NBA basketball playoff series Saturday, June 19, 2021, in New York. (AP Photo/Frank Franklin II)
Milwaukee Bucks' Giannis Antetokounmpo, upper right, drives past Brooklyn Nets' Joe Harris during the second half of Game 7 of a second-round NBA basketball playoff series Saturday, June 19, 2021, in New York. (AP Photo/Frank Franklin II)
Brooklyn Nets' Kevin Durant (7) shoots over Milwaukee Bucks' P.J. Tucker to tie Game 7 in the second half during a second-round NBA basketball playoff series Saturday, June 19, 2021, in New York. (AP Photo/Frank Franklin II)
Brooklyn Nets' Kevin Durant (7) shoots over Milwaukee Bucks' P.J. Tucker to tie Game 7 in the second half during a second-round NBA basketball playoff series Saturday, June 19, 2021, in New York. (AP Photo/Frank Franklin II)
Milwaukee Bucks' Brook Lopez (11) shoots over Brooklyn Nets' Blake Griffin, front left, Kevin Durant (7) and James Harden, right, during the second half of Game 7 of a second-round NBA basketball playoff series Saturday, June 19, 2021, in New York. (AP Photo/Frank Franklin II)
Milwaukee Bucks' Brook Lopez (11) shoots over Brooklyn Nets' Blake Griffin, front left, Kevin Durant (7) and James Harden, right, during the second half of Game 7 of a second-round NBA basketball playoff series Saturday, June 19, 2021, in New York. (AP Photo/Frank Franklin II)
Milwaukee Bucks' Pat Connaughton, right, shoots over Brooklyn Nets' James Harden, left, during the second half of Game 7 of a second-round NBA basketball playoff series Saturday, June 19, 2021, in New York. (AP Photo/Frank Franklin II)
Milwaukee Bucks' Pat Connaughton, right, shoots over Brooklyn Nets' James Harden, left, during the second half of Game 7 of a second-round NBA basketball playoff series Saturday, June 19, 2021, in New York. (AP Photo/Frank Franklin II)
Milwaukee Bucks' Giannis Antetokounmpo (34) passes the ball away from Brooklyn Nets' Blake Griffin (2), James Harden (13) and Joe Harris (12) during the second half of Game 7 of a second-round NBA basketball playoff series Saturday, June 19, 2021, in New York. (AP Photo/Frank Franklin II)
Milwaukee Bucks' Giannis Antetokounmpo (34) passes the ball away from Brooklyn Nets' Blake Griffin (2), James Harden (13) and Joe Harris (12) during the second half of Game 7 of a second-round NBA basketball playoff series Saturday, June 19, 2021, in New York. (AP Photo/Frank Franklin II)
Brooklyn Nets' Kevin Durant, left, drives past Milwaukee Bucks' P.J. Tucker during the first half of Game 7 of a second-round NBA basketball playoff series Saturday, June 19, 2021, in New York. (AP Photo/Frank Franklin II)
Brooklyn Nets' Kevin Durant, left, drives past Milwaukee Bucks' P.J. Tucker during the first half of Game 7 of a second-round NBA basketball playoff series Saturday, June 19, 2021, in New York. (AP Photo/Frank Franklin II)
Brooklyn Nets' Kevin Durant, right, passes the ball away from Milwaukee Bucks' P.J. Tucker, center, and Brook Lopez, left, during the first half of Game 7 of a second-round NBA basketball playoff series Saturday, June 19, 2021, in New York. (AP Photo/Frank Franklin II)
Brooklyn Nets' Kevin Durant, right, passes the ball away from Milwaukee Bucks' P.J. Tucker, center, and Brook Lopez, left, during the first half of Game 7 of a second-round NBA basketball playoff series Saturday, June 19, 2021, in New York. (AP Photo/Frank Franklin II)

Print Headline: Durant's 48 not enough; Bucks edge Nets in OT

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