Yao Ming during a media event in May. (Kin Cheung / Associated…)
Shanghai — The flight from Beijing to Los Angeles takes more than 13 hours. It would have seemed a lot longer if the UCLA basketball team had lost Tuesday night.
But the Bruins can look forward to pleasant travels after wrapping up an undefeated swing through China, finishing their week-long journey with a 92-63 victory over the Shanghai Sharks in a game that was closer than the final score suggests.
The Sharks, a professional team playing without key starters, were able to hang close into the fourth quarter before UCLA made defensive stops to pull away.
"As soon as we starting locking up on defense, we got easy buckets on transition," forward Travis Wear said. "Things started clicking for us."
Wear led all scorers with 26 points. Freshman Kyle Anderson added 21 points and a game-high 11 rebounds.
That was enough to prevail on a relatively tough night at Yuanshen Sports Center.
The Sharks did not have stars Max Zhang or Liu Wei. They did not have the two American players that Chinese Basketball Assn. teams are allowed to carry on their roster each season.
But they had co-owner Yao Ming watching in the stands as Meng Linyuan and Cai Liang led the team to 7-for-9 shooting from three-point range. And they got crucial points from the free-throw line to stay close.
After easy wins over two college teams, UCLA needed to respond.
"They were making a good run," Coach Ben Howland said. "They were a good team, good coaching."
Tyler Lamb got things turned around with a steal and a fastbreak basket in the final five minutes. That started a 19-2 run to end the game.
"We got a little loose and made some turnovers," said Shanghai assistant Rory White, a former Clippers player. "That was the difference in the game."
The Bruins were scheduled to leave Shanghai on Wednesday morning and, after a stopover in Beijing, return to Los Angeles by Wednesday evening.
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