With 71 points, Mitchell set a Cleveland record, the most by a player in 17 years, and the Cavaliers overcame a 21-point deficit to defeat the Chicago Bulls 145-134 in overtime.
Donovan Mitchell, an All-Star already, added his name to one of the NBA’s most exclusive lists on Monday night.
Since legendary Lakers star Kobe Bryant scored 81 points against Toronto on January 22, 2006, Mitchell’s total matched the eighth-highest total in league history. On March 2, 1962, at Hershey, Pennsylvania, Wilt Chamberlain set the NBA record with 100 points for Philadelphia versus New York.
Mitchell motioned for the Cleveland audience, which has welcomed him in his brief time with the Cavaliers, to get louder as the last seconds of overtime ticked away, and then he took in their ovation.
Mitchell, who was acquired from Utah in the offseason, stated that it was “truly humbling” to be included in the record book with players like Wilt. ““I always believed I could be one of the best players in the league. I’m speechless and blessed to be in the company of that greatness.”
Later, Mitchell was sprayed with water by his teammates, and forward Cedi Osman took to the court with a microphone to start chanting “M-V-P, M-V-P.”
With three seconds left in regulation, Mitchell forced overtime by grabbing his own purposefully missed free throw and converting a circus shot, drawing the game at 130 and shattering the Cleveland record with 58 points. Mitchell then scored 13 points in the extra session.
Mitchell joined the 70-point club in overtime, moving up to position seven. Bryant, David Thompson, Elgin Baylor, David Robinson, and Devin Booker each made it to the milestone once, compared to six for Chamberlain.
Coach J.B. Bickerstaff of Cleveland stated, “We were treated tonight to one of the finest performances in the history of the game. Every single play that he made was a play that was necessary.
“Donovan has never put himself above the team, so how can you not root for a guy like that? I told everyone else to get out of the way.”
In 50 minutes, Mitchell also tied a career high with 11 assists and 8 rebounds. With 20 made and 25 attempted free throws, he achieved career highs. In the first quarter, he scored five points, in the second, 11, in the third, and in the fourth, he scored 24, and so on.
Mitchell made fun of his video game prowess by saying, “I think I had a game like that once playing NBA2K, but I don’t think I shot that efficiently.” But that resulted in a loss, so this feels much better.
Mitchell led the Cavaliers, who were without All-Star guard Darius Garland (right thumb sprain) and forward Evan Mobley (right ankle soreness) for the second straight game, to victory by shooting 22 of 34 from the field and making 7 of 15 three-pointers.
For Chicago, who did not trail in regulation, DeMar DeRozan scored 44 points, Zach LeVine had 26 points, and Nikola Vucevic added 20 points and 13 rebounds.
Mitchell practically shook his head in astonishment during his postgame news conference when it was stated that he had joined the elite group of NBA players to surpass 70 points.
It is demeaning, he remarked. I can’t even speak. When we came back and won, I personally not only accomplished it but I also made an effort to achieve so. This is how we won. It’s nuts.