Shaq Scores Career High 61 Points
Reverse the digits in 16, as in 16 straight wins, to reveal the astonishing point total of Shaquille O’Neal.
O’Neal scored 61 points Monday night, becoming the first NBA player in almost six years to reach the 60-point level, as the Los Angeles Lakers upped their winning streak to 16 games with a 123-103 drubbing of the Clippers.
``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,″ O’Neal said.
In other NBA games, Toronto downed Portland 109-90, Phoenix defeated Miami 100-92, San Antonio edged New Jersey 106-104, Sacramento downed Dallas 130-109, Milwaukee crushed Atlanta 111-78 and Orlando nipped Washington 87-85.
O’Neal, who also grabbed 23 rebounds, shot 24-for-35 from the field and 13-for-22 from the line in 45 minutes on his 28th birthday.
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.
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 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. 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.
O’Neal ran off 15 straight points, capped by a dunk off a feed from Kobe Bryant, before leaving with three minutes 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.
The Lakers’ 16-game winning streak matches their longest of the season. They will go for 17 straight Thursday night at Golden State.
Against the Clippers on Jan. 4, 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.
``It takes a lot of team play for someone to have a night like that,″ Jackson said. ``He’s our MVP.″
Raptors 109, Trail Blazers 90
Carter scored 35 points and Doug Christie added 26 as Toronto hit a season-high 13 3-pointers.
The Raptors won their sixth in a row and fourth straight on the road, a franchise record. Toronto moved a half-game ahead of Philadelphia for the No. 4 spot in the Eastern Conference.
Rasheed Wallace scored a season-high 27 and Arvydas Sabonis had 16 points and 11 rebounds to lead the Blazers, who have lost two of their last three home games after winning 16 straight.
Portland weathered a 15-0 run in the second quarter, but folded after Toronto reeled off 13 straight points in the third.
Carter was playing his first game ever at the Rose Garden, and he treated the crowd to an exhibition of long-distance shooting along with a flashy dunk. Carter shot 4-of-5 from 3-point range. Christie was 5-of-9.
Suns 100, Heat 92
Penny Hardaway matched his season high with 28 points, and Jason Kidd had a season-best 17 assists as Phoenix gained its 11th consecutive home victory.
``We’re starting to understand each other,″ said Kidd, who also had 10 points and fell one rebound short of a triple-double. ``We now have gotten some games under our belt in different situations, up by 20, down by 10. We’re starting to hit our peak. We just want to bottle this up and keep it until June.″
Seven players scored in double figures for the Suns, who have won 11 of 13.
Spurs 106, Nets 104
Stephon Marbury’s 29-footer in the final seconds touched nothing but air, as New Jersey lost another close one.
``The last shot wasn’t the reason we lost the game,″ said Marbury, who scored 34 points to lead the Nets, who are 7-17 in games decided by five points or less. ``We were pretty much trying to get a shot off, just trying to get a basket. It felt good, it just fell short.″
David Robinson scored 25 and Tim Duncan added 17 points and 13 rebounds for the Spurs.
Kings 130, Mavericks 109
At Sacramento, Chris Webber had 22 points, 11 assists and 10 rebounds as the Kings never trailed in defeating the Mavericks.
It was the third triple-double this season for Webber and the 11th of his career. It was the third win in four games for the Kings, who had a season-high point total and made 14 of 27 3-point attempts.
Vlade Divac had 19 points and 10 rebounds. Nick Anderson made five 3-pointers and scored 17 points.
Bucks 111, Hawks 78
At Milwaukee, Darvin Ham scored 11 of his 13 points in the first quarter and grabbed a career-high 13 rebounds. He dunked twice in the first quarter over Dikembe Mutombo.
Sam Cassell scored 21 points to go with 12 assists, and Glenn Robinson added 17 points as Milwaukee handed Atlanta its second-worst loss of the season.
``That was the worst I’ve ever seen it,″ Hawks coach Lenny Wilkens said. ``No one was out there playing. We were nonexistent.″
Magic 87, Wizards 85
Pat Garrity made a fadeaway jumper from the top of the key as time expired in Orlando’s win at Washington.
Chucky Atkins sparked a fourth-quarter comeback for the Magic, scoring seven straight and 10 of his 15 in the period. Corey Maggette scored 14 to make up for the absence of Ron Mercer, who was out with a sprained ankle.