Donovan Mitchell made history with the Cleveland Cavaliers on Monday night, netting a franchise-high 71 points in a 145-134 overtime victory against the Chicago Bulls.
It was the eighth most points ever scored by a player in NBA history and the most since the legendary Kobe Bryant had 81 points against Toronto on January 22, 2006. Mitchell also added 11 assists in the victory, becoming the only player to register that kind of stat line in NBA history, per StatMuse.
“To be there in the record book with guys like Wilt is truly humbling,” Mitchell said. “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.”
Maybe even more importantly, Mitchell’s outburst was part of a 21-point comeback effort. He scored the tying bucket after he intentionally missed a free throw with less than five seconds remaining.
“I think I had a game like that once playing NBA2K, but I don’t think I shot that efficiently,” Mitchell said. “But that was in a loss, so this feels that much better.”
He took to Twitter after the game to celebrate his massive night.
“New Year New Me,” Mitchell tweeted. “71 of them thangs.”
Kyrie Irving, LeBron James Reacts to Mitchell’s Massive Night
Mitchell’s big night was well beyond the previous record of 57, which hit by both Kyrie Irving and LeBron James.
James reacted to the news via Twitter, giving Mitchell his props.
“[Spider] you’re INSANE,” he tweeted with a series of clapping emojis.
Irving was asked about Mitchell’s night after he helped lead the Nets to a 139-103 victory against the Spurs. Irving said he had an inkling that Mitchell was set for a big night.
“Good,” Irving said. “Records are meant to be broken. I’m happy he did. What’s funny about it is … tell Don I shouted him out, but I was on Call of Duty a little bit before the game with Don. We were playing quads, and he was locked in, I could tell. He was locked in.”
Kevin Love, another Cavaliers legend, was on the floor to see the performance live. He didn’t mince words when asked about Mitchell’s performance.
“In my 15 years, that’s the best performance I’ve ever seen, ever been a part of. I’ve seen some special ones, I was talking about Kyrie here against Portland when he had 55, LeBron in game one of the 2018 Finals, 57 for Kyrie in San Antonio. But this one takes the cake,” Love said.
Mitchell Busts Out of Slump in Grand Fashion
Mitchell is among the top 10 scoring players in the league but hadn’t been playing his best ball as of late. Prior to winning their last two against the Bulls, the Cavs had dropped three in a row. In his four games prior, Mitchell was scoring 17.5 points per game on 32.9% shooting from the field.
“I’ve been playing quite s**t to be quite honest with you,” Mitchell said on December 31. “I’ve got to fix that and get better. I have to adjust.”
He put that behind him with the historic performance against the Bulls and his coach J.B. Bickerstaff was impressed by Mitchell’s will to win.
“He was determined to show that this group and winning are the most important thing to him,” Bickerstaff said. “There are not enough words. I have never been a witness to a performance like that live. I have seen some of it on tv before, but we were treated tonight to one of the greatest performances in the history of the NBA.”
Mitchell and the Cavs will look to carry the heat into a January 4 matchup with the slumping Phoenix Suns at home.