CLEVELAND – Already an All-Star, Donovan Mitchell added his name to one of the NBA’s rarest lists on Monday night.
Mitchell set a Cleveland record with 71 points, the most by any player in 17 years, and the Cavaliers moved up from 21 points to beat the Chicago Bulls 145–134 in overtime.
Mitchell’s total was the eighth-highest in league history and the most by an NBA player since Lakers great Kobe Bryant scored 81 against Toronto on January 22, 2006. December 2, 1962 in Hershey, Pennsylvania.
“Being in the record book with guys like Wilt is truly humiliating,” said Mitchell, who switched from Utah during the offseason. “I always believed that I could become one of the best players in the league. I am speechless and blessed to be in the company of this greatness.”
As the clock ticked to the last seconds of OT, Mitchell waved to the Cleveland fans who had hugged him during his short time with the Cavs to make more noise and then plunged into their applause.
Seconds later, teammates poured water on Mitchell, and forward Cedi Osman grabbed a microphone on the floor to start chanting “MVP, MVP.”
Mitchell scored 13 points in the overtime session after forcing an OT with an intentionally missed free throw and a circus shot with three seconds remaining in regulation to tie at 130 and break Cleveland’s record of 58 points.
In OT, Mitchell became the club’s seventh player with 70 points. Chamberlain has done it six times, while Bryant, David Thompson, Elgin Baylor, David Robinson and Devin Booker have done it once each.
“Today we were treated to one of the greatest performances in the history of the game,” said Cleveland coach J. B. Bickerstaff. “Each of his plays was necessary.
“Donovan 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.”
Mitchell also scored career goals with 11 assists and eight rebounds in 50 minutes. He set a career high with 20 free throws and 25 tries. He scored five points in the first quarter, 11 in the second, 24 in the third and 18 in the fourth.
“I guess I had that kind of game when I played NBA2K, but I don’t think I shot that effectively,” Mitchell joked about his video game skills. “But it was at a loss, so it feels a lot better.”
Mitchell left the field 22 of 34 and made 7 of 15 3-pointers while leading the Cavaliers, who were without All-Star defenseman Darius Garland (right thumb sprain) and forward Evan Mobley (right ankle soreness) for the second straight game.
DeMar DeRozan scored 44 points, Zach LeVine had 26 points, and Nikola Vucevic added 20 points and 13 rebounds for Chicago, who kept up with the rules.
During the post-game press conference, Mitchell almost didn’t believe it when it was mentioned that he had joined the NBA Legends roster with 70 points.
“It’s humiliating,” he said. “I have no words. As for me, I not only did it, but I did it with effort when we came back and won, and that’s how we won. It’s crazy.”
Bulls: G Javonte Green (right knee soreness) was unavailable after appearing in the previous three games. Green has missed a total of nine games with the injury and will undergo a thorough review in Chicago on Tuesday. “He made some progress and then flared up again,” coach Billy Donovan said. … G Lonzo Ball (left knee surgery), who last played Jan. 14, jogs a little and does limited court work.
Cavaliers: Cleveland set win records in each of the first three months of the season for the first time since the 2016-2017 season. The latter ended a streak of 16 winning months in a row with LeBron James, Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love. … G Ricky Rubio (left knee rehab), F Dean Wade (left shoulder sprain), and G Dylan Windler (right ankle sprain) are left out. Rubio could be back in action within two weeks.
Bulls: visit Philadelphia Wednesday night.
Cavaliers: Take Phoenix Wednesday night.
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