A full quota of Americans and some generous calls from the referees helped the visiting Beijing Ducks gradually overhaul a plucky Sharks team who played without fear, but ultimately lacked the firepower to stay afloat.
Stephon Marbury stole the show and finished strongly with a flurry of long-range threes that helped him make it to 38 points for the game. Other Beijing players were also in good form but it was the former New York Knicks point guard who did the most damage as the Ducks showed their championship pedigree when it counted.
Carried by the Yuanshen crowd, the Sharks started strongly and a feisty dunk from Zhang Zhaoxu underlined that the Sharks, even without the injured Liu Wei and Gilbert Arenas, were coming out swinging.
Dogged defense and some clinical finishing from Liu Ziqiu and DJ White also set the tone and by the time Tseng Wen-Ting drilled home a three-pointer right in the face of Ji Zhi, the Shanghai fans were starting to believe in an upset.
However, the Ducks were never out of the game due to Marbury, who was either converting chances or carving them out for his teammates to finish off.
The visitors were also helped by some questionable refereeing, which not for the first time this year, massively irked both Sharks’ coach Daniel Panaggio and the home crowd.
Having seen several calls go against his team and with chants of ‘black whistle’ raining down from the stands, Panaggio himself was seemingly warned by a referee that if he complained any further, he would get a technical. On the very next play, the officials missed Zhai Xiaochuan’s blatant goaltending of Meng Lingyuan.
The Sharks had a ten point lead well into the third quarter but realizing that the game was on the line, Marbury and Randolph Morris combined to quickly break down Shanghai’s resistance with about five minutes of the final fourth quarter to spare. White, who once again had turned in a top-notch shift on his way to scoring 33 points, could only watch as his team was once again overwhelmed in the final twelve minutes.
Harried and harassed for most of the game, Marbury was determined to make his point to a now exhausted Sharks team by single-handedly running up the score in garbage time.
A deep three-pointer with five seconds on the clock moved him close to the forty point mark but as a contest, the game was done a long time ago. The home crowd angrily heckled the referees at the final whistle but it made little difference and the Sharks have now slipped to 4-13.