Adelman, who was often criticized during the last of his eight seasons as the Kings coach, made his first visit back to Arco Arena and received a standing ovation during pregame introductions. The typically stoic Adelman, who guided Kings to their biggest success in the Sacramento era and won 63 percent of his games before being fired after the 2005-06 season, stood up and waved to the crowd, acknowledging the ovation.
"It was the first time I went against my old coaching staff; I felt like I had been traded," Martin said. "I told them (Adelman and former Kings assistants Elston Turner and T.R. Dunn) I appreciated the great job they did here and that they were remembered. He got a standing ovation for a couple of minutes and it could have went five."
The Kings took the lead for good with a strong third quarter and withstood a Tracy McGrady-led charge by Houston. McGrady scored 28 of his 40 points in the second half. It was the 44th game McGrady has scored 40 or more points, including the third time this season.
Martin also produced a big second half with 21 points for the Kings, who had lost four of their previous five games. His 3-pointer gave the Kings their biggest lead at 89-79, and the Rockets never got closer than three points in losing their second straight.
"This is a special place and the fans here have always been terrific," said Adelman, who sat out last season following a string of eight straight playoff appearances as the Kings coach. "It was strange coming back. I would have liked to get a win, but you've got to move on."
It was a confidence-booster for the Kings, who shot 2-of-23 in the fourth quarter Wednesday when they squandered a lead in a loss to visiting Golden State. Sacramento made 13 of 15 free throws in the fourth quarter Saturday and never lost the lead in raising its home record to 6-3.
"It's a process, learning how to win close games," Kings coach Reggie Theus said. "We have a lot of young players. I hope they learn from all the positives we had tonight."
Yao Ming bounced back with 29 points and 11 rebounds after scoring a season-low 10 points Thursday when Houston lost by 19 points at Golden State, its worst defeat of the season.
But it was a frustrating finish for Yao. After fouling out with 3:01 remaining, he headed to the locker room following a technical foul for arguing the call.
Former Kings player Bonzi Wells had eight points and 10 rebounds for Houston.
"I think I got a bad call or whatever (on his sixth foul), but it's still up to us," Yao said. "They scored 58 points in the second half; that's really bad energy for us."
Martin and McGrady traded baskets for much of the second half. McGrady scored 15 points in the third quarter, but the Rockets were still outscored 30-24, thanks to Martin's 14 points. Artest added eight points in the period as the Kings took a 79-74 lead into the fourth.
McGrady made five 3-pointers, hit 14 of 30 shots and seven of eight free throws despite some heavy defensive pressure from both Artest and Salmons.
"Tracy McGrady is a scary basketball player," Theus said. "He's so good, the only thing you can do down the stretch of the game is put your best player on him."
The Kings had no first-half answer for the inside play of Yao, who had 21 points and eight rebounds to help Houston to a 50-49 advantage.
- Yao made his first four shots, scored Houston's first nine points and had 16 in the opening quarter.
- Houston starter Chuck Hayes had four first-half fouls in 10-plus minutes.
- Kings rookie Spencer Hawes had a season-high 10 rebounds in 14 minutes.