The Pistons didn't score in the quarter until Knight's jump shot with six minutes remaining made it 80-59.
"There was no offensive energy out there at all," Detroit coach Lawrence Frank said. "We didn't even give ourselves a chance during that run. I don't make excuses why because I know we're capable of doing more."
Detroit's Tayshaun Prince, who scored 13 points, was unhappy with the team's performance.
"The way we are playing right now is unacceptable," he said. "Guys should be upset right now."
Houston came in averaging almost 20 turnovers a game but had a season-low 14 against Detroit.
This was the second meeting between these teams this season. Harden scored 37 points and had 12 assists in a 105-96 victory in his debut with the Rockets on Oct. 31 after a trade from Oklahoma City days earlier.
Marcus Morris added 12 points for Houston and Toney Douglas had 11. Lin helped out with seven points, eight assists and four rebounds.
Houston was up 72-57 entering the fourth quarter.
The Rockets were up by five at the end of the first quarter, and used a 14-7 run capped by a 3-pointer from Douglas to open the second quarter and extend the lead to 34-22.
Houston's lead was 15 points late in the second quarter before Detroit scored nine straight points to end the period and cut the Rockets' lead to 47-41 at halftime.
NOTES: Houston rookies Terrence Jones and Donatas Motiejunas made their NBA debuts on Saturday night. Jones had five points and two blocks and Motiejunas had three points . ... Houston's Chandler Parsons has made at least one 3-pointer in each game this season. ... There is no timetable for McHale's return.