"We have enough time to do anything, and we're four games out, so it comes to what we do as a team," Drummond said. "It can't be one or two people. We have to be as a collective group to want to buckle down and try to win games."
Trailing 102-84 with 10:33 remaining, Detroit outscored the Rockets 13-5 over the next 4:22 to cut the lead to 10 on Smith's free throws, but Beverley nailed back-to-back 3-pointers to push the lead back to 16 with four minutes remaining.
The Pistons closed within seven once more with a 10-1 run, capped by consecutive layups by Stuckey, but got no closer.
"I think guys stopped playing a little bit because of the lead," Jones said. "We just tried to make sure that we got back to it on the defensive end to make sure we got the win. I think we did that late in the fourth."
The Rockets, who never trailed, moved to 40-19. Only the 1993-94 team that started 40-15 got to 40 wins faster.
Houston used a 16-2 run over a three-minute stretch of the first quarter to open a 23-6 lead on Howard's two free throws 5 minutes into the game.
"We did a good job of coming out with some aggression and getting some defensive stops and getting out in transition," Harden said.
Houston expanded its lead to 58-33 on Howard's free throw with 4:58 remaining in the first half. The Rockets led 69-46 at the break.
NOTES: Houston forward Chandler Parsons missed the game with an illness. . Rockets center Greg Smith underwent an exploratory arthroscopic knee surgery Wednesday to repair a medial meniscus tear and to examine changes to ligament structures in his right knee. Smith, who has missed 36 games this season, is out indefinitely. . Drummond leads the Eastern Conference with 43 double-doubles this season