The game was a local showcase for Yao, who is easing back from foot surgery after sitting out last season. The center looked sharp under the basket with several deft hook shots during 18 minutes on the court. When he wasn't playing, he spent his time on the sideline riding an exercise bike.
New Jersey's Brook Lopez led all scorers with 20 points and Anthony Morrow had 19.
The game marked the debut of the Guangzhou International Sports Arena. The Rockets open the season on Oct. 26 against the Los Angeles Lakers.
Yao finished 5 of 8 from the field and added five rebounds -- enough to be selected the game's most valuable player. The crowd chanted his name as he left the game with nine minutes left in the fourth quarter.
Aaron Brooks had 12 points for the Rockets, and Brad Miller added 11. Miller played his first preseason game since spraining his ankle in September.
The Rockets take on the San Antonio Spurs and Dallas Mavericks in two more exhibitions in the U.S. next week.
The Nets wrap up their preseason against the New York Knicks and Boston Celtics next week before opening against the Detroit Pistons on Oct. 27.