The Beijing Ducks got their CBA winners rings infront of their sold-out home crowd and then promptly went to work on their visiting rivals from the south. Randolph Morris was a continual problem for the Sharks throughout the game and the centre helped himself to 23 points that came mostly from close range surges into the paint.
Stephon Marbury was happy to play second-fiddle to the more direct and aggressive Morris but it didn’t stop the former NBA All-Star from racking up 16 points, six rebounds and eight assists whilst Ji Zhi and Zhai Xiaochuan also made it into double figures with hauls of 19 and 13 points respectively.
For the Sharks, the game got ahead of them as quickly as the first quarter when the hosts scored 29 points to Shanghai’s 13. Daniel Panaggio’s men were shocked into life in the second quarter but the early deficit already seemed to be too much for Shanghai, who were relentlessly harried by a ruthless Ducks team.
To add insult to injury, their newly signed big name Gilbert Arenas lasted barely five minutes of the first quarter and soon after sinking a tricky three-pointer, the point guard pulled up with what appeared to be a groin injury and was replaced immediately.
Captain Liu Wei, having eased his way into the low double figures shortly after half-time, then joined Arenas on the bench for most of the second half as the Sharks quickly realised the game was slipping away and sought to limit any other injuries to key personnel. That said, DJ White remained in the game almost from start to finish and his 24 point, 17 rebound effort was one of the few highlights from a Sharks’ perspective.
The final quarter saw a late rally by the Sharks bench that helped make the score line a bit more palatable (Shanghai were down by over twenty points for stretches of the game) but with Morris continually crashing around in the paint, the Sharks stood little chance of catching up with the home team.
Ultimately, Beijing made the most of an excellent start and a hugely experienced team (many of the Ducks roster have been together for at least three seasons) did what it took to shut down a winded opponent. With three days to help them lick their wounds, the Sharks will now hope Arenas’ injury is a minor one and that the team itself can shake off the Ducks defeat with a road win against the traditionally feeble Tianjin Lions.