Sports | January 4, 2023 11:23 am

NBA Drug Tests Cleveland Cavaliers After Donovan Mitchell Drops 71 Points

The star guard had the eighth-highest-scoring performance in NBA history

Donovan Mitchell against the Bulls at Rocket Mortgage Fieldhouse in 2023.
The NBA thought Donovan Mitchell going for 71 versus the Bulls was fishy.
Jason Miller/Getty

After scoring 71 points and passing for 11 assists against the Chicago Bulls on Monday night, Cleveland Cavaliers star guard Donovan Mitchell had to pass a drug test that was administered by the NBA.

Mitchell, who had the eighth-highest-scoring performance in NBA history,  went 22-of-34 from the field, made seven of 15 3-pointers and scored 13 points in overtime to help the Cavs come back from a 21-point deficit to beat the Bulls. The NBA apparently thought the 26-year-old’s historic outburst may have been a bit too special and tested him and the rest of his teammates for performance-enhancing drugs Tuesday afternoon. Per the collective bargaining agreement, players are subject to four random tests for PEDs during the season and two during the offseason.

Also taking some of the shine away from the special night, the NBA announced Tuesday via its Two Minute Report that the game should never have gone to overtime because Mitchell’s game-tying basket off of a missed free throw attempt shouldn’t have counted. In the Two Minute Report, which assesses calls made by officials in the last two minutes of the fourth quarter and overtime of games that were decided by three points or fewer, the league found Mitchell stepped “over the plane of the free throw line before the ball touched the basket ring” and therefore shouldn’t have been able to secure his own rebound and score.

The NBA can say what it wants but Mitchell, who scored the most points by an NBA player since the late Kobe Bryant had an 81-point game against Toronto in 2006, had one of the best nights the league has seen and is probably the biggest reason the Cavs are one of the best teams in the Eastern Conference at 24-14. Along with Bryant, the only other players to score at least 71 points in a game are Wilt Chamberlain, David Thompson, David Robinson and Elgin Baylor.

“This is nuts, to be honest,” Mitchell said. “I’m extremely blessed and humbled that I’m in that company, in that group. I’ve always believed I can be one of the best players in this league, but I’ve got to keep working. This is a big milestone, but at the end of the day, those guys have all won at the highest level. That’s my ultimate goal. To be there in the record books with them is truly incredible.”

The NBA may want to test Giannis Antetokounmpo for PEDs next, as he dropped a career-high 55 points for the Milwaukee Bucks on Tuesday night at Fiserv Forum in a 123-113 victory over the Washington Wizards. The Bucks improved to 24-13 with the win over the Wizards (17-22).