HOUSTON, Feb. 14 (Ticker) -- Rookie Caron Butler played like the veteran the Miami Heat were missing.

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Butler stepped up in the absence of Eddie Jones and scored 24 points as the Heat stopped an eight-game road losing streak with a 94-82 victory over the slumping Houston Rockets.

"This is one of our best games in a long time," Heat coach Pat Riley said. "We played well from beginning to end. It was a good win against a very good team."

Jones, the Heat's leading scorer, is expected to miss at least a couple of games after aggravating a left groin injury in Wednesday's loss to New Orleans. In January, Miami went 1-6, including 0-5 on the road, while Jones was out with a sprained right ankle.

Without their leader, the Heat played a spirited game, never trailing and shooting a season-best 51.5 percent (34-of-66). Butler led the way, falling one point shy of a season high.

"Coach said for me to be ready to attack tonight," Butler said. "Every time I got the ball, I tried to take it to the rack. We're missing Eddie Jones, so the offense has to go through me. My teammates did an excellent job of getting me the ball in a position where I could do something with it."

"He played great. We're going to go to him from now on," Riley added. "He's really matured. It's time for him step up like he did. And he wants it."

Travis Best and Mike James each added 15 points for Miami, which led by as many as 18 in the first half.

Steve Francis scored 27 points to lead the Rockets, who lost for the ninth time in their last 13 games. After the latest defeat, the Rockets held a team meeting.

"I think he (coach Rudy Tomjanovich) really got his point across," Francis said. "Right now, the way we're playing, we're not going to beat anyone. They gave us an old-fashioned butt-whooping."

Houston fell to 12-10 against sub-.500 teams.

"It's something that the guys are very aware of," Tomjanovich said. "The only way this is going to change is for everyone to evaluate what they're doing. It's some kind of syndrome and it's mostly mental."

The Heat were in control throughout, building a double-digit lead less than six minutes into the contest and holding a 26-18 advantage after one quarter behind 10 points from Butler.

Vladimir Stepania and James combined to score the Heat's first nine points of the second quarter, extending the lead to 35-20.

James led a strong effort by Miami's bench, which outscored the Rockets' reserves, 25-15.

Butler, who was 8-of-15 from the floor and 8-of-9 from the line, sank a jumper and Best split a pair of foul shots, giving the Heat their biggest lead of the first half at 48-30. They settled for a 50-33 advantage at the break.

Upset when he slid to 10th in June's draft, Butler clearly was the best rookie on the floor. Houston center Yao Ming, the top overall pick, finished with 10 points and eight rebounds.

"The way he played today, he could've been an All-Star," said Yao, who played in the All-Star Game on Sunday.

The Rockets, who were stagnant offensively for much of the night, finally found their rhythm in the third quarter and closed to 66-58 with 4:20 left in the period on two foul shots by Francis.

Francis was 6-of-18 from the floor but 14-of-18 at the line.

Eddie Griffin added 14 points and 12 rebounds for Houston, which shot just 33 percent (26-of-79.

A jumper by Terence Morris pulled the Rockets within 75-68 with 6:55 remaining in the fourth quarter. But Eddie House answered with a jumper and Brian Grant dunked to help the Heat regain control.