CLEVELAND — Donovan Mitchell set a Cleveland record with 71 points, most by an NBA player in 17 years, and the Cavaliers rallied from 21 down to beat the Chicago Bulls 145-134 in overtime on Monday night.
Mitchell’s total matched the eighth highest in league history since Lakers legend Kobe Bryant had 81 points against Toronto on Jan. 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, who was 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.”
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 3.0 seconds left, tying the game at 130-all and breaking the Cleveland record with 58 points.
In OT, Mitchell become the seventh player in the 70-point club. Chamberlain did it six times, while Bryant, Michael Jordan, 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 J.B. 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, also setting career highs with 20 free throws made and 25 free throws attempted. He scored five points in the first quarter, 11 in the second, 24 in the third and 18 in the fourth.
“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 7 of 15 3-pointers in carrying 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.
DeMar DeRozan scored 44 points, Zach LeVine had 26 points and Nikola Vucevic added 20 points and 13 rebounds for Chicago, which did not trail in regulation.
Mitchell put Cleveland ahead for the first time — the only lead change of the game – by burying a 3-pointer to open OT. The previous Cavaliers record of 57 points was shared by LeBron James and Kyrie Irving.
Mitchell entered the new year in an offensive funk, averaging 17.5 points over the previous four games while shooting 32.9% on 73 field goal attempts. He now ranks ninth in the NBA with a 28.0 scoring average. “A lot of teams are sending a lot more bodies at him, and that’s on us to help him,” Bickerstaff said. “It’s on his teammates to recognize they have to make teams pay and make plays.”
Bulls: G Javonte Green (right knee soreness) was unavailable after appearing in the previous three games. Green has missed nine total games with the injury and will undergo a thorough examination Tuesday in Chicago. “He was making some headway, then it flared up again,” coach Billy Donovan said. … G Lonzo Ball (left knee surgery), who last played on Jan. 14, is lightly jogging and doing limited on-court work.
Cavaliers: Cleveland posted winning records in each of the first three months of the season for the first time since 2016-2017. The latter wrapped up a run of 16 straight winning months with All-Stars LeBron James, Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love. … G Ricky Rubio (left knee rehabilitation), F Dean Wade (left shoulder sprain) and G Dylan Windler (right ankle sprain) remain out. Rubio could return to action within two weeks.
Bulls: Visit Philadelphia on Wednesday night.
Cavaliers: Host Phoenix on Wednesday night.
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