Shanghai Sharks gave up their first sweep of the season and having lost at home to the Liaoning Jaguars in December, got the same treatment when they played the reverse tie in Benxi. Like the last time the Sharks encountered their hosts, the Jaguars were slick, ruthless and more than willing to pass the ball around as Shanghai tried but failed to keep up with the home side’s offence. The 93-84 loss means that the Sharks record on the road now stands at 3-9.The first quarter was all about Marcus Landry whose crisply taken haul of 11 points helped the Sharks open up a 28-19 lead after the first twelves minutes. The Dalian beefcake himself, Han Dejun, who’d put up 30 points and 20 rebounds against Foshan in the previous game, was given some especially vigilant marking from Zhang Zhaoxu, and by and large, the Sharks lanky center canceled out the impact of his 7″2, 320lbs assignment.
Things simply weren’t going to be that easy and the Jaguars were starting to get carried along by the deafening noise of their home fans and with the appearance of former LA and Atlanta forward, Josh Powell from the bench, suddenly the Sharks had to take care of more than one physical presence in the Liaoning ranks.
The increased defensive burden and the growing noise in the Tiexi was starting to take its toll and although the Sharks were still ahead going into the halftime break, Carney, along with Zhang Qinpeng and Guo Ailun, were looking full of menace and Shanghai were finding themselves stretched by the range of weapons available to the Jaguars.
Indeed, the threat of Liaoning moving up a gear became a reality shortly after halftime. The Jaguars started strong and suddenly there was danger everywhere for the away side as Guo Shiqiang rotated his line-up to continually keep Shanghai on the back foot. A bit of Rodney Carney here, a little later Liu Shunan would appear alongside the free-throw line to bury a shot before Han would be summoned from the bench to come back on and bang around in the paint. The scoreline changed quickly and by the start of the fourth quarter, suddenly the Sharks were down by almost twenty points.
This being the Sharks, the away side weren’t going to go down without making some noise first and Mike Harris and Landry were quietly picking up buckets from all over the court. The problem was that so were the Jaguars. All of them. It was an impressively selfless performance from the home side, who were sharing the chances around one another.
When the final buzzer came, the Sharks had fought their way back to a certain degree. The deficit had been trimmed to nine points after hard work from a number of Sharks players but the scoreline was still 93-84 to Liaoning, and Shanghai had lost their second game on the bounce. Harris scored 30 points, Landry got 21 and Zhang got 11 but this was not the best start to a run of games that will see five of its play-off rivals come to the Yuanshen in the next eight games.