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Milwaukee Bucks edge the Brooklyn Nets 115-111 in overtime in an epic Game 7 to advance to the Eastern Conference finals

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.

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The Bucks held on from there when Durant missed two jumpers, the last an air ball with three-tenths of a second 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 the Philadelphia 76ers or Atlanta Hawks in a series that starts Wednesday night. The 76ers and Hawks play Game 7 of their East semifinal series Sunday.

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Durant played all 53 minutes and forced overtime with a turnaround jumper that was just inches from being a 3-pointer that would have won it with one 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 a right hamstring injury.

The Bucks' Khris Middleton (22) shoots over the Nets' Bruce Brown for the tiebreaking basket during overtime of Game 7 of a second-round playoff series Saturday in New York. The Bucks won 115-111.
The Bucks' Khris Middleton (22) shoots over the Nets' Bruce Brown for the tiebreaking basket during overtime of Game 7 of a second-round playoff series Saturday in New York. The Bucks won 115-111. (Frank Franklin II / AP)

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

In a series in which 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 overtime since the Dallas Mavericks beat the San Antonio Spurs in the 2006 Western Conference semifinals.

The Bucks had a 109-107 lead before Middleton missed a 3 attempt, 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 3-point line to tie it at 109.

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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, eight assists and seven rebounds.

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.

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 3-point attempts in a rehash of their shooting struggles from when the series began in New York.

The Nets capitalized on the Bucks’ misfires — Antetokounmpo shot an air ball on a free-throw attempt 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 less tan 2 minutes remaining, but the Bucks closed strong to take an 82-81 lead to the fourth.

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