James sank two 3s early in the third quarter to get himself going. But Lin hit a 3-pointer and then threaded a nifty bounce pass to Parsons for a fast-break layup as the Rockets rallied again. Carlos Delfino's 3-pointer from the wing with 5:03 left in the third quarter gave Houston its first lead at 70-69.
The Rockets continued to find holes in the middle of the Heat's defense to keep Miami at bay. James scored 16 points in the third quarter, but rimmed out a 3-pointer just before the buzzer and Houston led 85-82.
Marcus Morris sank two unlikely 3-pointers from the corner over James, and Houston seemed to be on its way to a big early-season win. But the Rockets' shooting touch left them just when they needed it most. Houston made a season-high 12 3-pointers, but missed its final three attempts from long range.
"We made some good plays toward the end of the game," James Harden said, "but some of the shots didn't fall."
Harden shook off a slow start to score 22 points. Lin had only nine points and six assists.
Notes: James scored in double figures for the 149th consecutive game for Miami, breaking a tie with Wade for the longest streak in franchise history. ... The Rockets were still uncertain when McHale would rejoin the team. "It's a tough time for his family," Sampson said. "Our thoughts and prayers are certainly with him." ... Houston Texans general manager Rick Smith and star receiver Andre Johnson, a Miami native, had a courtside seats next to prominent defense attorney Rusty Hardin, a regular at Rockets games. Houston running back Arian Foster sat behind them, and James ran over and greeted both players just before the tipoff. ...Shane Battier, who played for the Rockets from 2006-11, got a loud ovation when he was introduced in Miami's starting lineup. The Rockets played a tribute video after the first quarter and Battier acknowledged more applause with a wave.