Cavaliers guard Donovan Mitchell exploded for 71 points (and 11 assists!) in Cleveland’s overtime win over Chicago on Monday night, marking the highest-scoring night for an NBA player since Kobe Bryant poured in 81 points against Toronto in January 2006, nearly 17 years ago.
“In my 15 years, that’s the best performance I’ve ever seen,” said veteran forward Kevin Love, who spent several seasons playing alongside all-time great LeBron James and saw Kyrie Irving score 55-plus points multiple times (link via Chris Fedor of Cleveland.com).
Including Bryant, there were just six players in NBA history who had scored at least 70 points in a game before Mitchell did it on Monday — Wilt Chamberlain, David Thompson, David Robinson, Elgin Baylor, and Devin Booker are the others.
“It’s humbling. I’m speechless to be honest with you,” Mitchell said, per Fedor. “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. This is nuts. I’m extremely blessed and humbled that I’m in that company, in that group.”
As Marc J. Spears of Andscape tweets, Mitchell scored or assisted on 99 Cavaliers points, which is the second-highest total in NBA history, topped only by Wilt Chamberlain’s 100-point game in 1962.
Mitchell’s performance stands above the rest of the class as the best single game of the 2022/23 season, but he has faced plenty of competition, and was hardly the only player to have a huge night on Monday. Klay Thompson scored 54 points in a double-overtime victory for the Warriors; LeBron James had 43 points, 11 rebounds, and six assists en route to a win in Charlotte; Joel Embiid went for 42 points and 11 rebounds in a win over New Orleans; and DeMar DeRozan, whose Bulls lost to the Cavs, saw his 44-point showing get overshadowed in a major way by Mitchell’s night.
According to NBA.com, Monday represented the third time since December 23 (11 days ago) that at least five players have scored 40-plus points on the same day. Prior to December 23, that had only happened four times in NBA history.
As Kevin O’Connor of The Ringer observes (via Twitter), Mitchell’s and Thompson’s outbursts on Monday represented the 12th and 13th times this season that a player had scored at least 50 points in a game. That means we’re on pace for 28 such performances this season, which would be the most the NBA has seen since 1962/63 — there were 34 that year, and 30 of them were from Chamberlain.
It hasn’t just been a historic year so far for individual offense. Team offense is also reaching a high water mark that the NBA hasn’t seen in the last 50-plus years. According to Basketball-Reference, teams are averaging 113.7 points per game so far in 2022/23, which would be the highest league-wide scoring average since the 1969/70 season.
While it may not appeal to fans who love defensive slugfests, this season’s brand of basketball has been ideal for those who favor shootouts. It’s also forcing us to rethink how we evaluate a player’s stat line relative to the league average.
It’s still impressive for a player to average 20 points per game, for instance, but it’s not nearly as rare a feat as it was even 10 years ago, when teams were scoring just 98.1 points per game. In 2012/13, only nine qualifying players averaged 20 PPG for the season — this year, 43 are doing so.
25 thoughts on “Mitchell’s 71-Point Game Latest Highlight In Historic Offensive Season For NBA”
Awesome game by Mitchell. The talent in the NBA right now is real. I think there was good balance with the rules changes/interpretation to start the season. Defense is benefiting from more traveling calls and abnormal non-basketball move rule. Offense benefits from transition take fouls. It’s just incredible performances by the elite offensive players.
The talent in the NBA has declined considerably. Nobody is benefitting from rule changes that ESPN wanted. ESPN is writing the big checks. ESPN is why “rules” keep changing. They dictate what the NBA does and wanted more “offense” in the NBA, so they got rid of the big man. They called it “modernizing” the game. They thought more offense would lead to more viewers, and then more ad revenue.
This is also why almost “everybody” competes for a playoff spot. Playoff ad dollars are worth the most (guys actually play hard), so ESPN keeps negotiating more games in the contract. This is why the “Regular Season” means nothing. If you win 1 game on the road in the playoffs, you then have home court advantage. No need to go hard during the season. Rest your stars (fans still pay same price). All you got to do is get into the playoffs which is pretty easy.
When a player is putting up 50-plus and 70-plus points a game and teams are routinely scoring over 110 points, it’s no longer an interesting sport to follow. The same as in MLB with the juiced baseball a few years ago. Sure the HR’s were fun to see on the highlights, but baseball is not HR Derby.
These rule changes pro sports go through to inject scoring in games only makes great performances routine. It’s like eating too much fudge.
If something is done only 5x in 50 years (70+ points) then how in the world can you complain about it happening too much? Even 50+ is still an amazing thing. Over the history of the NBA only 20 guys have done it more than 5x in their careers. The increased usage of 3pt shooting obviously helps.
Emar Erozan, Ayo Osumu, Errick Jones Jr, Anre Rummond, Goran Ragic. Bulls have no D at all. This team gives me gas
Idk I see rummond has a little d
That’s why the iCarly chick dumped him I guess
Still had to take the lowly Bulls to OT for the win. Kobe didn’t need an extra period to get 81.
And he was playing against the miserable Raptors, who at that time were even worse, having lost twice as many games as they had won. Please spare us your equivalency.
The Raptors were 14-27 and the Bulls are now 16-21. Huge difference, what’s your point?
Blowbe only had 6 rebounds and 2 assists. Mitchell’s game was far more impressive.
They didn’t have Mobley or Garland and they came back from an 18 point deficit at halftime.
He “only” had 58 or 59 at the end of regulation so you’re right that he wouldn’t have gotten there without overtime, but let’s not downplay what he did.
The ball is juiced this season.
Good thing you held on to Quentin Grimes Knicks
The Mitchell trade is working out – even if it doesn’t produce a championship – it’s more entertaining than Sexton/Markkanen.
I don’t have it above the Admiral’s 71-14-5-2 game vs the Clippers. Even tho the game was against a trash team – there were some names on that roster. A Center in the modern era scoring that many points is pretty legit.
Wilt – Kobe – Admiral – Mitchell – Baylor if I’m raking the 100 to 71 point games.
David Robinson’s game only really happened because his teammates wanted to screw Shaq out of the scoring title because Shaq had made some stuff up about Robinson being mean to him when Shaq was younger, so Robinson’s teammates fed him the ball nonstop. Robinson was a nice guy, but he still wanted to win, so he just went along with it for the sake of his teammates and his desire to win. Not to take away from his accomplishment, 71 points is insane no matter the context, but there’s more to it than most people recall.
I don’t like comparing, so I won’t say any of those is better or not, but that context matters and I find it funny how many people forget about it.
I know that story line, but still hes a Center, and with 1 of 2 3’s to accomplish that feat. I just put more on position with this feat in the modern era.
Whereas Kobe made 7/13 and Mitchell 7/15. The main reason I ranked Baylor last was Bulls>1960 Knicks team.
But I get not wanting to rank any of them and just enjoying the feat itself.
Thompson is out?
Boring, at this point I’d rather see a mid 90’s 90-86 game.
Cleveland better not have many games without Mobley!
In case anyone is wondering, Mitchell shot 22-34 overall, 7-15 from 3 PT, 20-25 from the line and added 8 rebounds.
Sooooo are the Cavs fans finally happy. DM is on of the good guys. He is humble and takes care of his body. I thought it was a great pickup for Cavs. Mitchell is still young. He is a major star now.