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Bulls vs. Cavaliers final score: 71-point night from Donovan Mitchell downs Chicago in OT

erratic ref whistles in the third quarter turn a massive halftime lead into a historic scoring tear

Chicago Bulls v Cleveland Cavaliers Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images

Through the first half of tonight’s rematch against the Cleveland Cavaliers, your Chicago Bulls looked like they had learned their lesson following a last-second heartbreaker against the Cavs at the United Center Saturday night.

But it was not to be. Some generous ref whistles in the third quarter helped Cleveland get back into the game, and then new Cavs superstar guard Donovan Mitchell proceeded to have the night of his life, scoring a career-most 71 points (!), also a Cleveland franchise record, against a helpless Chicago defense. Mitchell also dished out 11 dimes and pulled down eight boards for good measure. The Cavaliers overpowered the Bulls in overtime, winning 145-134.

Bulls All-Star small forward DeMar DeRozan’s 44 points in 46 minutes were pretty much an afterthought as Chicago dropped to 16-21 with the loss.

All looked pretty rosy in the first half. DeRozan paced Chicago with 18 points through two quarters, and the team led Cleveland by as many as 21 points in the second period before closing out the half still up big, 65-47. That Cavs sum is the lowest output the Bulls have allowed from an opponent in a first half this year.

Though the Bulls’ “Big Three” stepped up to contribute much of the team’s offense in the third quarter, Donovan Mitchell’s red-hot scoring kept the Cavs in the contest. He had 24 points in the third frame alone, pretty much pulverizing the Bulls from all over the floor.

A free throw disparity that had so mightily favored the Bulls in the game’s first half swung the other way in the third quarter, as the Cavaliers shot 16-of-18 on free throws to Chicago’s 6-of-6 in the frame.

Cleveland scored 44 points in the third quarter alone to finish down just five points, 96-91, heading into the game’s final period.

The fourth quarter proved to be a back-and-forth affair, contingent on either team’s best scorer to bail out his club with late-game shotmaking. Here’s one such big moment from our guy:

The game was knotted up, 123-123, with under a minute to spare in regulation.

A pass-happy sequence ending in a critical Nikola Vucevic trey helped Chicago take a 126-123 lead with 36.5 seconds remaining.

A Jarrett Allen dunk off a Donovan Mitchell alley-oop promptly got Cleveland within a point, 126-125. Ayo Dosunmu drew a quick foul from Kevin Love. The second-year guard nailed both his tries at the charity stripe. Allen once again cooked up more late-game magic, scoring another quick two points off a hook shot to get the edge to a one-point Bulls lead, 128-17.

Coby White drew a foul on Donovan Mitchell and made both his looks. As he had been effectively doing all night, Mitchell drew a foul on Ayo Dosunmu (Dosunmu’s fifth) and returned to the charity stripe. He made his first attempt, then deliberately missed the second before grabbing his own rebound for a game-tying putback layup with three seconds left in regulation.

After DeMar DeRozan missed a 27-foot three-point heave at the other end, time ran out with the score knotted 130-130, and Cleveland headed into overtime with all the momentum.

Cleveland went on to outscore a totally gassed Chicago 15-4 in the bonus frame, finishing with a stunning double-digit victory.

The Cavs enjoyed a massive advantage in three point shooting, going 16-of-46 (34.8%) against Chicago’s 10-of-33 (30.3%) night. Chicago’s “Big Three” wasn’t really even the problem tonight. Vucevic put up a 20-point, 13-rebound double-double, while LaVine chipped in 26 points, six rebounds and six assists. But the Bulls’ depth and defense failed them once again. Only one other Chicago player, Patrick Williams, scored in double digits (10 points, eight of them in the first half).