Nearly two years after one of the ugliest incidents at a sporting event in the United States, Wallace and Artest made peace.
There were no late fouls. No retaliation pushes. And, most importantly, no riots.
There was plenty of drama, though.
Kevin Martin scored a career-high 30 points, including the go-ahead jumper with 6.4 seconds left, and Artest added 22 points and 13 rebounds to lead the Kings to an 89-88 victory Friday night.
"I always wanted to talk to him," Artest said. "When you take a hit like that and are not playing in the NBA for a whole year, you get kind of frustrated. It was good I had a chance to talk to him."
It was their first meeting since the brawl between the Indiana Pacers and Detroit Pistons at The Palace of Auburn Hills.
Artest gave each of Bulls a pat on the rear end before the opening tip, then struggled from the field before the late surge. He was fouled backing in on Kirk Hinrich on the game's opening possession. Wallace swatted the ball into the seats, drawing a few oohs, and Artest made both free throws.
Otherwise, there was little interaction between the two on the court -- unlike their encounter on Nov. 19, 2004.
On that night, Artest fouled Wallace with 45.9 seconds left in a game the Pistons had wrapped up. Wallace responded with a two-handed shove to the chin, and mayhem followed.
The result was lawsuits and criminal charges for players and fans.
Nine players were suspended, with Artest benched for the remainder of the season -- a punishment that cost him about $5 million. He was traded to Sacramento last season and did not play against the Pistons. Wallace, who signed with the Bulls in the summer, was suspended for six games.
Artest reiterated his desire to box Wallace on pay per view before Friday's game, predicting he would win in one round. Otherwise, he tried to defuse any drama.
"If it were Detroit-Indiana, it would be different," said Artest, a former Bull. "There would probably be more anxiety."
Instead, they hugged after a tense game.
"Give them credit, they kept fighting," Wallace said. "They made shots, got to the foul line. Mike Bibby hit some tough shots. Artest was able to penetrate and break our defense down. They did what they were supposed to do."
Chicago's Chris Duhon threw away an inbounds pass with 13 seconds left. Bibby drove the lane and passed out to Martin for a baseline jumper after Wallace rotated.
"I just figured that I would try to make it look like I was shooting and try to find somebody open, and Kevin hit a big shot," Bibby said.
Duhon then dribbled the ball off his foot, and Sacramento left the United Center with a come-from-behind victory.
Artest scored seven points in the final 1:10, starting with a three-point play that cut the Bulls' lead to 83-80. After Artest missed a long 3-pointer, Luol Deng of the Bulls made one free throw with 23 seconds left that made it 86-82. But Bibby, who scored 23 points, pulled Sacramento within 88-87 with a fadeaway 3-pointer from the corner with 14 seconds remaining.
"The opportunity was there for us to go 0-2," Artest said. "It was a big game for us."
And another big performance by Martin, who shot 10-for-15 after scoring 23 points in the Kings' season-opening loss at Minnesota two nights earlier.
Deng scored 29 points and Wallace grabbed 13 rebounds in his first regular-season home game as a Bull.
With 10,000 fans handed Wallace afro wigs, the Bulls' center broke out his trademark hairdo after keeping it braided during the preseason and the first two games. Then, he gave a vintage performance. After averaging eight rebounds in the first two games, he had seven in the first quarter alone.
Deng did his part, hitting 12 of 21 shots, but a Bulls team that opened with a 42-point win at Miami lost its second straight.
"As a team, we just made mistakes defensively," he said.
- Martin's previous high was high was 25 points.
- Deng's 29 points were one shy of a career-high set Feb. 8, 2005, at Dallas.
- The Bulls honored late Celtics coach and executive Red Auerbach with a moment of silence before the game.