Howe, who handed Ryan Fraser a start at the expense of Marc Pugh, said his decisions to bring on Adam Smith, Brett Pitman and Tokelo Rantie had been tactical.
Defender Ian Harte made way for Smith after 57 minutes, Pitman replaced Lewis Grabban midway through the second half and Rantie came on for Fraser 10 minutes from time.
Howe, asked about his decision to start with Fraser, told the Daily Echo: “I have said I will rotate the team and try to keep people fresh.
"I am reluctant to make too many changes while we are on such a good run but when you identify people you feel need a breather and you have players who are champing at the bit to play then why not.”
He added: “In-running, I felt we needed to do it as well because we weren’t quite at our best physically so it gave me a chance to bring on three substitutes to try to make an impact and I felt they all did that.”