The absence of Jimmer Fredette – who is in Colorado for the birth of his first child – was too difficult to overcome as the Shanghai Sharks dropped the opening game of the best-of-5 first round playoff series to the Shenzhen Leopards 115-75 on Friday.
After a solid first-quarter start saw them take a seven-point lead, the Leopards blew the game wide open in the middle two quarters as they outscored the Sharks 61-23 to take a commanding 45-point lead at the end of three.
Jeremy Pargo led the way for Shenzhen in the lopsided home win with 29 points on 50 percent shooting from the floor to go along with nine assists, six rebounds and a pair of steals. Maciej Lampe added 28 points on 11 for 21 shooting from the field with 10 rebounds and five steals.
Li Muhao registered 18 points and seven rebounds while He ZhongMian chipped in with 12 points on 5 for 7 shooting from the floor, including 2 for 3 from distance.
Guerschon Yabusele paced the Sharks in the loss with 31 points on 11 for 25 shooting from the floor and 7 for 10 from the free-throw line, but was just 2 for 10 from beyond the arc. He added 13 rebounds, three assists and three steals while playing all 48 minutes.
Yabusele wasn’t the only one to struggle from 3-point range as Shanghai connected on just 5 of 35 shots from distance. But it was a tough shooting night all-around for the Sharks as they shot just 31 percent from the floor (27 for 87).
Zhang ZhaoXu added 15 points on 5 of 9 shooting from the field and 5 for 6 from the foul line with seven rebounds while Liu XiaoYu – who is in the middle of a shooting slump – suffered through another difficult night as he finished with just 10 points on 4 for 20 shooting, including 1 for 8 from beyond the arc.
The Sharks will get the chance to bounce back at home as they head to Shanghai for games two and three with the hopes of using their wonderful home court advantage – 18-1 in 19 games – to get back in the series.