Artest never got to properly say goodbye to his teammates after he was traded from the Kings to the Rockets in August. Three hectic months later, it was finally time for the handshakes and hugs.
"It was a fun night," Artest said. "I hadn't seen my teammates since I left them. It was good to see them. We had a lot of good times."
Yao Ming scored 15 points in 27 minutes before twisting his right ankle and leaving for good with 3:07 left in the third quarter. Coach Rick Adelman said Yao was also fighting a cold.
"Hopefully, he'll be fine," Adelman said.
The Rockets also played without Tracy McGrady, who's still bothered by a sore left knee. McGrady has played only one quarter in the preseason.
Artest isn't concerned about the time McGrady has missed and said the Rockets won't skip a beat when he returns.
"Everything is clicking right now," Artest said. "When Tracy gets out there, he's our leader and he's going to get everybody involved, so it'll continue to go the same way."
Aaron Brooks scored 23 points in McGrady's place and Luis Scola grabbed 10 rebounds for Houston. Artest played only 18 minutes, all in the first half.
"He looked really active and picked his spots a little bit better," Adelman said. "He was active all over the court."
Kevin Martin scored 19 points and Brad Miller had 10 points and nine rebounds for the Kings, who shot 37.5 percent (30-for-80) and went 3-for-15 from 3-point range.
Most of the team's projected starters played the bulk of the first quarter. The one exception was Brooks, usually Houston's backup point guard.
Former Rockets guard Bobby Jackson entered with 2:09 left in the first quarter. Jackson, who played for the Kings from 2000-05, returned to Sacramento in the Artest trade.
Jackson wasn't quite as sentimental as Artest was.
"No special feelings," he said. "It was just a preseason game."
After running down the sideline to say hello to the Sacramento coaching staff, Artest scored all 13 of his points in the opening quarter to help the Rockets take a 30-20 lead.
"We knew, in this game, he was wanting to come out really strong," said Kings coach Reggie Theus. "I knew he would be fired up. Everyone wants to play well against a former team."
Both coaches used most of the second quarter to take a look at their reserves. Kings rookie Donte Greene sank a 3-pointer with 6:25 left in the half, but Houston still led 39-28. Memphis originally drafted Greene, the Rockets acquired him in a trade and then sent him to the Kings in the Artest deal.
Sacramento shot 24 percent from the field (6-for-25) in the second quarter and the Rockets led 52-37 at the break.
The Kings' starters opened the second half with a 15-4 run. Houston's starters were all on the floor except for Artest, who was replaced by Mike Harris. The Rockets missed 8 of their first 10 shots after halftime and Miller's basket from the baseline cut the lead to 56-52.
Brooks scored 10 points in the final quarter to help the Rockets hang on. D.J. Strawberry finished a fast break with a dunk with 2:22 left to put the Rockets up 93-86.