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Artest back in Kings' lineup after serving 7-game suspension

11/15/2007 - NBA Ron Artest Sacramento Kings + more

MINNEAPOLIS -- Ron Artest rejoined Sacramento's lineup
Wednesday night at Minnesota, ready to resume his never-dull career
after serving a seven-game suspension to start the season.

The Kings picked up only two victories during Artest's penalty.
They were eager to have him back, though Artest expressed little
emotion about his return following the team's morning shootaround
at Target Center.

"It's all good. It's just a regular day," said Artest, who
turned 28 on Tuesday. "Same old, same old. I've been in the league
eight years, so same old."

Less than 4 minutes into the game, the versatile, volatile
forward -- looking leaner than before -- found an opening in the
Minnesota defense and drove the lane for an easy dunk and his first
points of the season. Artest was suspended by the league this
summer for pleading no contest to a domestic violence charge that
stemmed from a dispute with his wife -- his latest brush with
trouble.

He finished with 17 points and six assists in the Kings' 108-103
loss to previously winless Minnesota, and was unavailable for
comment afterward. The team said he had a tooth knocked out.

Artest was asked before the game what he expected from himself
in his belated debut.

"Same old, same old," he said.

Which is?

"Same old, same old," he repeated.

Kings coach Reggie Theus was expecting an extreme. He just
wasn't sure which one.

"These kind of situations, I think guys either play really good
or they struggle," Theus said. "It's usually not an in-between
thing. But he's going to play and see what happens."

Wolves coach Randy Wittman was more concerned about seeing
improvement and consistency from his young team than how it would
adjust to facing Artest, who averaged 18.8 points for Sacramento
last season and is one of the NBA's best defensive players.

"If we come out aggressive against him and make him work,
that's what we want," Wittman said. "We don't need to do anything
different or make anything more out of him coming into this game."

The Kings came closer to getting their full squad back. Point
guard Mike Bibby is out for at least another month with a torn
ligament in his left thumb, but center Brad Miller was on the floor
Wednesday after missing the previous game with a bruised right
quadriceps muscle.

Also, reserve center Justin Williams, who has been on a leave of
absence from the team, will be back for Thursday's practice in
Sacramento. Prosecutors, citing insufficient evidence, declined
this week to file charges against him over allegations that he
sexually assaulted a woman.

"I'm happy for him, because it could have been a disaster,"
Theus said.

Two veteran forwards sat out against Minnesota with minor
injuries -- Shareef Abdur-Rahim (sore right knee) and Kenny Thomas
(bruised right shin).