Donovan Mitchell put on a historic show last night (Jan. 2) in the Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse. The Cleveland Cavaliers’ shooting guard scored a franchise-record of 71 as he led his team to a 145-134 overtime victory over the Chicago Bulls.
His scoring effort is the most points scored in an NBA game since the Los Angeles Lakers’ late legend Kobe Bryant dropped 81 against the Toronto Raptors on Jan. 22, 2006. Wilt Chamberlin, another late basketball superstar, holds the NBA record for most points scored in a game when he scored 100 points for Philadelphia against New York on March 2, 1962.
“To be there in the record book with guys like Wilt is truly humbling,” said Mitchell, who the Cavs acquired from the Utah Jazz last 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.”
Cleveland head coach J.B. Bickerstaff also spoke on the history making of his 6-foot-1 guard.
“We were treated tonight to one of the greatest performances in the history of the game,” 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.”
The coach was right. The Cavaliers trailed by as many as 21 points until Mitchell, who scored only five points in the first quarter, began his tear. He scored an additional 11 points in the second period and an astonishing 42 points in the second half. With 4.4 seconds left, the 26-year-old guard’s team trailed by two points. He then purposely missed his second free-throw attempt, grabbed his rebound and scored a layup to tie the game at 130. He scored 13 points in overtime and led his team to a win. Along with the 71 points, he added 11 assists and 8 rebounds.
Mitchell is the only player in NBA history to score 71 and 11 assists. He is also only the seventh player in NBA history to score 70 or more in a game. He now joins Chamberlain, who accomplished it six times, while Bryant, David Thompson, Elgin Baylor, David Robinson and the Phoenix Suns’ Devin Booker each reached the historic milestone one time.