CLEVELAND (AP) – Already an All-Star, Donovan Mitchell added his name to one of the NBA’s most rarefied lists yesterday night.
Mitchell set a Cleveland record with 71 points, most by any player in 17 years, and the Cavaliers rallied from 21 down to beat the Chicago Bulls 145-134 in overtime.
Mitchell’s total matched the eighth-highest in league history and marked the most points by an NBA player since Lakers great Kobe Bryant scored 81 against Toronto on January 22, 2006. Wilt Chamberlain owns the NBA record with 100 for Philadelphia against New York on March 2, 1962, at Hershey, Pennsylvania.
“To be there in the record book with guys like Wilt is truly humbling,” said Mitchell, acquired from Utah in the offseason. “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.”
As the final seconds of OT ticked off the clock, Mitchell waved his arm for the Cleveland crowd, which has embraced him in his short time with the Cavs, to make more noise and then soaked in their applause.
Seconds later, Mitchell was doused with water by his teammates and forward Cedi Osman grabbed a microphone on the floor to lead an “MVP, MVP”, chant.
Mitchell scored 13 points in the extra session after forcing OT by grabbing his own intentionally missed free throw and making a circus shot with three seconds left in regulation, tying the game at 130 and breaking the Cleveland record with 58 points.
In OT, Mitchell became the seventh player in the 70-point club. Chamberlain did it six times, while Bryant, David Thompson, Elgin Baylor, David Robinson and Devin Booker reached the figure once apiece.
“We were treated tonight to one of the greatest performances in the history of the game,” Cleveland coach JB Bickerstaff said. “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.”
Mitchell also had a career high-tying 11 assists and eight rebounds in 50 minutes. He set career bests with 20 free throws made and 25 attempted.
“I think I had a game like that once playing NBA2K, but I don’t think I shot that efficiently,” Mitchell joked of his video-game skills. “But that was in a loss, so this feels that much better.”
Mitchell went 22 of 34 from the field and made seven of 15 three-pointers in carrying the Cavaliers, who were without Darius Garland and Evan Mobley for the second straight game.