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Donovan Mitchell's record-breaking miracle Monday night shouldn't have counted, NBA says

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CLEVELAND, Ohio — NBA history shouldn’t have been made on Monday night.

At least, that’s what the NBA said after the video review of the Cleveland Cavaliers’ 145-134 overtime win over the Chicago Bulls.

According to the NBA Last Two Minute Report – the league’s assessment of official events that occurred in the last two minutes of games that were at or within three points at any point in the last two minutes of the fourth quarter (and overtime, when applicable ) — There were two incorrect calls. Both in favor of Cleveland.

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Most notable and controversial came on Mitchell’s record-breaking putback – a remarkable layup after a missed free throw that gave him a franchise-record 58 points and sent the game to OT.

With 4.6 seconds left and the Cavs trailing by two points, Mitchell deliberately missed his second freebie, darted toward the lane, caught his own rebound in the air, and threw it to the basket.

A league review of that play on Tuesday afternoon showed that Mitchell went over the plane of the free-throw line before the ball touched the basket – a violation of NBA rules.

Mitchell should have been called for a lane violation, denying the basket, keeping the Cavs behind by two and putting Mitchell up to 56 points – a career-high and Cleveland single-game record that was previously shared by LeBron James and Kyrie Irving.

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As the three-person refereeing team – Tony Brothers, JB DeRosa and Suyash Mehta – allowed the game to proceed in real time without a whistle, Mitchell’s magic moment counted and the game went into overtime, where Mitchell scored 13 more points, bringing his total to 71.

He became just the seventh player in NBA history to have 70+ points in a game – and the first since Phoenix Suns swingman Devin Booker on March 24, 2017. Mitchell’s 71 points are tied with Elgin Baylor and David Robinson for the eighth-highest single-game total in NBA history. It’s the most points scored in the NBA this season. Mitchell’s previous regular season record was 46, reaching that number three times with the Jazz. He added 57 on the bubble.

According to the NBA, none of this should have happened.

The only other incorrect link that appeared on the Last Two Minutes Report came moments before. With Cleveland trailing 128-125 with just over 10 seconds left, Mitchell drove to the right of the lane and swerved to center Jarrett Allen under the hoop. The run ended with Allen’s jump hook on the lane that cut Chicago’s lead to one point.

Only Allen should have been called for a trip.

The league said he got up and replaced his center foot before throwing the ball. If that play had been handled correctly, the Bulls would have been in possession with a three-point lead.

The Last Two Minutes Report evaluates all notable calls and non-calls. Per the league’s definition, notable non-calls are generally defined as material plays directly related to the outcome of a possession. Similar to instant replay standards, there must be clear and conclusive video evidence to determine that a play was awarded incorrectly. In this case, both faults qualify under these parameters.

However, nothing changes in the official record book. It is not possible to rewrite history. The Cavs still won. Mitchell still joined the 70-point club. And he even became the Cavaliers’ single-game scoring record holder, surpassing James and Irving.

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