Donovan Mitchell will receive much of the focus as he comes off a record-setting performance for the Cleveland Cavaliers in a home matchup against the Phoenix Suns on Wednesday.
With the Cavaliers trailing by 21 points and just under two minutes to play in the first half Monday against the Chicago Bulls, Mitchell kicked a historic night into high gear, leading to a franchise record-setting performance.
Mitchell took his momentum into the second half, scoring 24 points in the third quarter, 18 in the fourth and 13 more in the overtime session as the Cavaliers stunned the Bulls 145-134.
Cleveland is now 6-0 in overtime this season.
Mitchell, who failed to reach the 20-point mark in three of his previous four games, led Cleveland with 16 points in the first half, but the Cavs trailed 65-47 at the break. That’s when Mitchell inspired an offense that shot 57.1 percent in the third quarter and scored 44 points to begin their rally.
The Cavs tied the game 123-123 with just over a minute remaining on a Kevin Love free throw. Cleveland was down 130-127 with just 4.4 seconds to play when Mitchell hit one of two free throws. He missed the second intentionally and converted a put-back layup in the closing moments to send the game to overtime.
Mitchell entered exclusive company that includes Wilt Chamberlain, Kobe Bryant and Elgin Baylor as NBA players with at least 70 points in a game. David Thompson, David Robinson and Devin Booker also have reached the 70-point plateau.
“I did it in an effort where we came back and won and it’s how we won. For me, that’s what’s nuts, to be honest,” Mitchell said. “I’m extremely blessed and I’m humbled that I’m in that company. I’ve always believed I could be one of the best players in this league, but I’ve got to keep working.”
Booker was the last to reach 70 points in March 2017 for the Suns against the Boston Celtics.
“This was a big milestone, but at the end of the day, those guys won at the highest level – and that’s my ultimate goal – but to be there in the record books with them is truly incredible.”
Booker and the Suns are looking to conclude a season-long six-game road trip on a winning note. Phoenix has lost three straight and four of five on its current trip.
The Suns were blown out by the New York Knicks 102-83 on Monday and afterward, Suns center Deandre Ayton voiced his frustration.
“I’m not used to the no-fight in us,” Ayton said. “I’m used to us being down a hundred and we still are going to pull out and win the game, or we still have that mentality like we’re about to win this game. Right now, we don’t have that, so that’s the only thing that’s going on throughout these games and why we’re losing.”
The Suns scored just 11 points the first quarter and 31 points in the first half, both season lows.
Suns coach Monty Williams accepted responsibility.
“Mentally and emotionally, I’ve got to get our guys stronger,” Williams said.
Phoenix has lost six of its last seven overall to slide to eighth in the Western Conference.
–Field Level Media