Posing with a number scribbled on a stat sheet is one of the highest honors earned for a single-game performance. Donovan Mitchell’s 71-point outing against the Chicago Bulls was more than worthy of that treatment as it was unequivocally one of the best performances in NBA history.
Mitchell finished the night shooting 22-34 (64.7%) from the field, 7-15 (46.7%) from deep and 20-25 (80%) from the free-throw line. This was good enough to produce an effective field goal percentage of .750 and a true shooting percentage of .789. He also contributed 11 assists and 8 rebounds in the win.
Mitchell shook off a rough start to the game as he only connected on 1 of his first 5 attempts from the field. He went into the half with just 16 points on 5-10 shooting.
Things took off after the break. Mitchell scored 55 points after halftime on 17-24 shooting from the field and 4-8 shooting from deep. He scored 42 in the second half which included 18 in the fourth on 7-11 shooting. Mitchell didn’t miss in overtime as he canned all four of his shots from the field and both free-throw attempts.
Mitchell’s 58 points in regulation was the most points by a Cavalier besting LeBron James and Kyrie Irving who previously shared the honor at 57. Mitchell secured the record after intentionally missing a free-throw, collecting the rebound and tipping in the put-back to force overtime.
Are you serious, Donovan?! pic.twitter.com/YVpO9RDmzs— Bally Sports Cleveland (@BallySportsCLE) January 3, 2023
The 71 points was also the most scored in an NBA game in Northeast Ohio. Michael Jordan scored 69 against the Cavs on March 28, 1990 in a 117-113 Bull’s overtime win. Brad Daugherty was on the call of Mitchell’s 71-point outing after playing against Jordan in that game.
The 58 points Mitchell scored in regulation is the second most points scored in regulation this season behind only Luka Dončić’s 60-point outing last Wednesday. The 71 points Mitchell finished with is the most scored this season.
Mitchell is also only the third player this century to score 70 or more in a game joining Kobe Bryant and Devin Booker as the only two others to reach that threshold. This was the most points scored in a game since Kobe’s 81-point outing in 2006.
This was the 10th time an individual scored 71 or more points in a game. Mitchell became the sixth player to reach that mark joining Elgin Baylor, David Robinson, David Thompson, Bryant and Wilt Chamberlain who notched more than 71 points on five separate occasions. Mitchell is tied for third most points scored in a game in the non-Wilt division.
Mitchell’s 34 shots were the least taken to score 70 or more points. The next closest were the 38 shots that Chamberlain took to score 70 on March 10, 1963 and David Thompson took to score 73 on April 9, 1978.
Furthermore, Mitchell’s 34 shots is the third fewest attempts needed to finish with 62 or more points. Steph Curry and Bryant both scored 62 points on 31 attempts from the field.
Mitchell’s true shooting percentage of .789 is the best among players who have scored 63 or more in a game. Thompson’s 73-point outing is the next closest as he registered a .780 true shooting percentage.
Monday night was also the only time a player has scored more than 60 points while registering 10 or more assists. Dončić and James Harden were the closest to accomplishing this feat as they have both recorded 60 point and double-digit assist games.
Unsurprisingly, this performance results in the third highest game score recorded by Basketball Reference with a game score of 60.80. This puts him behind only Bryant’s 81-point night (63.50) and Jordan’s 69 points against the Cavs (64.60).
Donovan Mitchell more than put on a show in the Cavs’ comeback victory on Monday night. He completed one of the most impressive individual performances in NBA history. We’ll likely never see a better outing from someone wearing wine and gold in our lifetimes.