The Sharks brief run of wins is over after Charles Gaines ground down the visiting Shanghai side with some one-dimensional but hugely effective close range power. With partner in crime Marcus Williams also getting in on the act, the Dragons’ two American star players routed their guests thanks to a second half display of offensive might.
Coming into the game, Williams was seen as the more dangerous player but instead Gaines, who has made his name in various international leagues around the world, showed how effective veteran know-how can be as he backed down every Sharks’ player thrown at him using his brute strength and deft footwork.
Gaines finished the game with 33 points and 9 rebounds, and although Williams just outscored him with a haul of 34, it was the power forward who helped tire the Sharks’ defence after the visitors had put up a spirited resistance in the early stages of the game.
DJ White and Liu Wei were once again at the heart of the Sharks’ best moments but they couldn’t keep up with the all-action Shanxi duo, whose monopolising of nearly all of Shanxi’s scoring chances was justified by some ruthless finishing as the Dragons opened up a double-digit lead by halftime.
Knowing that the the Sharks were tired from the lengthy travel around the outer reaches of China to play in both Urumqi and Taiyuan, the Dragons had no qualms throwing on bench players to take fouls and try to exhaust the visitors further in what quickly became an extremely physical second half.
To their credit, the Sharks kept on coming but they couldn’t get close to canceling out the hosts’ winning margin and the fourth quarter saw Shanxi calmly put the game out of reach before running up the score in garbage time.
For Shanghai, Liu Wei scored 18 points and Liu Ziqui got 17. Having now fallen to 2-4, the Sharks will now be hoping to come out all guns blazing against the Guangsha Lions on Sunday night. Whether Gilbert Arenas is finally fit to join them remains to be seen.