When Cleveland Cavaliers All-Star Donovan Mitchell exploded for 71 points in January, the basketball world was left stunned. It was the most points by a player in a single game since Los Angeles Lakers legend Kobe Bryant went for 81 in 2006. So naturally, it would take another 17 years for someone to approach Mitchell’s tally, right?
Not so fast.
On Sunday, Portland Trailblazers star Damian Lillard matched Mitchell’s total, going for 71 (including 13 threes!) in the Blazers’ 131-114 win over the Houston Rockets.
According to Mitchell’s mom, it’s time for the Cavs star to improve his game.
“My mom calls me and says @Dame_Lillard tied your record… you gotta get 72 now,” Mitchell tweeted, with a slew of crying-laughing emojis.
After the performance, Lillard explained his mindset on nights when he erupts offensively.
“I enjoy those moments in the game when I’m just going after people,” Lillard said, per ESPN, “when I’m in attack mode.”
Lillard’s 13 threes were one shy of tying Warriors star Klay Thompson’s mark for the league record.
Mitchell Reveals Mom’s Wise Words After Loss
Mitchell still has a close relationship with his mother. In an interview last week with Esquire, Mitchell was asked what advice his mother would give after a loss growing up.
“Understand [that losing is] part of the process. It’s part of the building process that’ll make you who you are.” So as a man, having that mindset helped me learn. It’s tough, when a lot of people—especially in today’s generation—seem to be thriving in this world on Instagram and Twitter,” Mitchell explained, with his mother sitting nearby.
Mitchell also revealed that his mom kept him focused on the important things and taught him to remain concentrated on his own personal goals.
“So she said, “Stay in your lane, run your race, and there’s going to be things that go well for you, and things that don’t go well. But as long as you continue to put the same work in and same effort in, eventually it’ll pay off—and God’s always got you,” Mitchell finished.
Mitchell’s hard work has more than paid off for the former Louisville Cardinal. In his first season with the Cavaliers, Mitchell was named an All-Star starter, averaging 27.2 points on nearly 39% from three.
Mitchell Earns Praise from Cavs’ Coach Bickerstaff
Mitchell’s hard work has also not gone unnoticed from those around him. After blowing out the Toronto Raptors Sunday, Cavs head coach JB Bickerstaff lauded the team’s lone All-Star for never shying away from the spotlight.
“Whenever the lights shine brightest, Donovan shows up,” Bickerstaff said postgame, per Chris Fedor of cleveland.com. “He gives us a guy who can take over at games. We trust him and he got it done.”
In the must-win get-right game for Cleveland, Mitchell scored 35 points in just three quarters, a figure that likely would have gone up had the Cavs not rested Mitchell for the fourth.
Mitchell was instrumental in setting the tone early on following a pre-game meeting with Bickerstaff. Given Mitchell’s playoff experience and the rest of the starting five’s lack thereof.