LOS ANGELES (AP) -- Shaquille O'Neal asked for the ball on his 28th birthday and the rest of the Lakers were happy to hand it over.
He repaid the favor with an offensive performance that was as spectacular as it was rare.
O'Neal scored a career-high 61 points Monday night as the Lakers extended their winning streak to 16 games by beating the Clippers 123-103.
''I can't afford to buy something for the big man when he already has everything, so I gave him some assists,'' said Ron Harper, who had four assists.
It was the 52nd time in NBA history that a player scored 60 or more points. O'Neal was the first to do it since San Antonio's David Robinson scored 71 against the Clippers on April 24, 1994.
''The team wasn't playing that well in the first half and the shots that I'd been missing the last couple of games were falling for me,'' said O'Neal, who had 26 at halftime.
''A couple of my teammates said they wanted me to get 50, so I just tried to get the ball in a deep position and they looked for me. I have to thank my teammates and coach (Phil) Jackson for giving me an opportunity to do that,'' he said.
O'Neal, who also grabbed 23 rebounds, shot 24-for-35 from the field and 13-for-22 from the line in 45 minutes against a team that had no one who could contain the 7-foot-1 center.
''We tried to do everything to slow him down, but we just had a tough going against him,'' Clippers coach Jim Todd said. ''We started to double-team him, but he had good position down low. So then we started to foul him, but he kept on making his free throws.''
The sellout crowd went wild cheering and waving white giveaway T-shirts every time O'Neal made a basket or a free throw in the fourth quarter, when he scored 19 points.
They chanted ''MVP, MVP'' when he completed a three-point play with 4:12 remaining to reach 59 points and put the Lakers ahead 111-94.
''It was fun. Even the Clipper fans started pulling for him to get as many points as he could,'' Glen Rice said. ''I'm pretty sure, deep down inside, even the Clipper players enjoyed it.''
O'Neal ran off 15 straight points, capped by a dunk off a feed from Kobe Bryant, before leaving with 2:33 left.
It was the highest scoring game in the NBA this season, surpassing Vince Carter's 51 for Toronto against Phoenix on Feb. 27.
O'Neal's previous career-high was 53 points on April 20, 1994, for Orlando against Minnesota.
''It takes a lot of team play for someone to have a night like that,'' Jackson said. ''He's our MVP.''
Last week, O'Neal reminded his teammates that his birthday was on Monday.
''He said, 'Man, can a brother get 60 on his birthday?' and sure enough, he did,'' guard Derek Fisher said. ''The first 40 points came kind of fast. I didn't realize that he had 26 at halftime. That's when I kind of knew that it was about to be a big night.''
The Lakers' 16-game winning streak matches their longest of the season. They will go for 17 straight Thursday night at Golden State.
''I want a 16-game winning streak in the playoffs,'' Jackson said. ''That's the one that's important.''
The Clippers had their second sellout crowd of the season with 20,385 at Staples Center. The first was against the Lakers on Jan. 4, when O'Neal had 38 points and 15 rebounds. In his next game the following night, O'Neal had 40 points and 19 rebounds against the Clippers.
The Lakers won the season series 4-0 for their third consecutive sweep of the Clippers. The Clippers have lost 13 straight to the Lakers.
Bryant added 22 points as the Lakers shot 61 percent from the field.
Maurice Taylor led the Clippers with 25 points and 10 rebounds and Derek Anderson added 21 points off the bench.
''He's a good player,'' Taylor said of O'Neal. ''When you have the size and speed, the combination that he has, he's unstoppable.''
It wasn't the Lakers' show from beginning to end, however. All but 6.9 seconds of the first half belonged to the Clippers, who despite being the league's worst team led by as many as nine points.
Wilt Chamberlain scored 60 or more points 32 times in regular-season games. Michael Jordan did it four times, the last on Jan. 16, 1993, vs. Orlando. ... The Lakers also won 16 straight from Dec. 11 until Jan. 12. Their last loss was a 105-81 defeat at San Antonio on Feb. 1. ... Clippers guard Troy Hudson didn't dress because of a stomach virus, while center Keith Closs sat out with back spasms.
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