CLEVELAND – It looked like it would be a strong start to the new calendar year for Billy Donovan’s team, but Donovan Mitchell had other plans.

In fact, the Bulls found themselves on the wrong side of a historic performance at Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse to begin 2023.

Mitchell scored 71 points over the course of four quarters and overtime for the Cavaliers as they erased an 18-point halftime deficit to win 145-134 Monday evening in Cleveland.

The three-time All-Star was 22-of-34 from the field and 7-of-15 from behind the three-point arc while hitting 20-of-25 free throws in 50 minutes of play. Mitchell forced overtime in the closing seconds of regulation when he hit a free throw, intentionally missed the second, got the rebound in the lane then got the bucket to tie the game at 130.

In the extra session, Mitchell completed his historic night by scoring 13 of Cleveland’s 15 points to get the team a victory. It’s the most points ever scored by an opposing player against the Bulls, breaking the mark set by Wilt Chamberlain when he had 68 points as a member of the Sixers against the team on December 16, 1967.

The 71-point performance is a rare one in the history of the NBA.

  • It’s the 12th time that a player has scored 70 or more points in a game.
  • Mitchell becomes the seventh player to score 70 or more points in a game.
  • It’s the first 70-point game since Devin Booker had that exact number on March 24, 2017 with the Suns against the Celtics.
  • Mitchell’s 71 points are the most scored by a player in the NBA since Kobe Bryant’s 81-point performance with the Lakers against the Raptors on January 22, 2006.

The effort sent the Bulls to their second-straight loss against the Cavaliers, having dropped a New Year’s Eve contest at the United Center 103-102. It spoiled a 44-point night for guard DeMar DeRozan as he had his second-highest scoring output on the season.

But it wasn’t enough thanks to Mitchell, who delivered a historic performance at the Bulls’ expense Monday night.