Hours before he took the floor in Cleveland, Donovan Mitchell was at home playing “Call of Duty” with Kyrie Irving.
According to the Brooklyn Nets star, it was easy to tell Mitchell was “locked in.”
That was, without a doubt, spot on.
Mitchell scored a franchise-record 71 points to lead the Cavaliers back from a 21-point hole to beat the Chicago Bulls in overtime on Monday night at Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse.
That’s good for the eighth-most points scored in a single game in league history and the most scored in a game this season. The 71 points are also the most scored since Los Angeles Lakers icon Kobe Bryant dropped 81 points on the Toronto Raptors in 2006.
"It's humbling. I'm speechless to be honest with you when you say that," Mitchell said, via Bally Sports. "I think for me, not only did I do that but I did it in an effort where we came back and won. And it's how we won. That's really what, for me, it's like man, this is nuts ... I'm extremely blessed, humbled that I'm in that company, in that group."
New Year New Me😂… 71 of them thangs ‼️‼️ pic.twitter.com/eqTSqAEKk8
— Donovan Mitchell (@spidadmitchell) January 3, 2023
The Bulls led through most of the contest Monday night, and took an 18-point lead at the break. It wasn’t until overtime that the Cavaliers took their first lead of the game. It took a wild sequence from Mitchell to get there.
Mitchell was at the free-throw line with less than five seconds to go in regulation and the Cavaliers down by two. There, he channeled his best Luka Doncic and expertly missed his free throw, got his own rebound and somehow tipped the shot back in to tie it.
OH MY GOD DONOVAN MITCHELL
What just happened pic.twitter.com/A9A9FIAsSi
— Will Gottlieb (@Will_Gottlieb) January 3, 2023
— Cleveland Cavaliers (@cavs) January 3, 2023
That gave him 58 points, which snapped LeBron James’ old franchise record in Cleveland for points in a game.
The Cavaliers then erupted on a 15-4 run in the extra period to take the 11-point win. All but two of their points scored in overtime came from Mitchell.
Mitchell finished the night with 71 points, 11 assists and eight rebounds. He shot 22-of-34 from the field and made seven 3-pointers.
"He was determined to show that this group and winning is the most important thing to him," Cavaliers coach J.B. Bickerstaff said of Mitchell, via Bally Sports. "There's not enough words, I've never been witness to a performance like that live ... We were treated tonight to one of the greatest performances in the history of the NBA."
Jarrett Allen added 21 points and eight rebounds for the Cavaliers, and Cedi Osman added 19 points off the bench. The win marked Cleveland's second straight over the Bulls, following a one-point win on Saturday in Chicago.
DeMar DeRozan led the Bulls with 44 points and Zach LaVine finished with 26 points, six rebounds and six assists. Nikola Vucevic added 20 points and 13 rebounds.