"I'm not used to seeing myself with 15 points and knowing that I had a good game," he said. "Before, even if I only had 20 points, I didn't think I was doing my job."
Iverson was Detroit's fourth-leading scorer on a night when no Pistons player reached 20.
"This is a different feeling, but I like it a lot," he said. "I've won four scoring titles and I've scored 23,000 points, so I've done a lot of big things when it comes to scoring the basketball, but now I've got different goals."
Detroit has now won four in a row, the last two without Richard Hamilton (groin).
"There was a lot of emotion in the building tonight, because they came in playing really well and because we knocked them out last year," Pistons coach Michael Curry said. "This is what the NBA should be like."
The loss ended Orlando's seven-game winning streak.
"I'm actually surprised that we were even in the game, because we only played 18 good minutes -- the first 18 of the second half," Magic coach Stan Van Gundy said. "We didn't compete on the defensive end in the first half, and we didn't finish the game."
Rodney Stuckey led Detroit with 19 points, while Tayshaun Prince and Rasheed Wallace each added 16. Antonio McDyess came off the bench with 11 points and eight rebounds despite a fourth-quarter rib injury.
"Dice was great," Curry said. "When we've got him and Sheed on the floor at the same time, it is tough for any team to double anyone, because it means a great shooter is going to have an open shot."
McDyess was injured in a three-way collision with Stuckey and Courtney Lee.
"It was horrible -- when I was laying on the court, I was just trying to get my breath back," he said. "It hurt, but I didn't even think about not coming back. I knew they needed me."
"We didn't play well at all tonight -- we played their style of ball," Lewis said. "They slowed it down and made us play half-court basketball."
Detroit held Howard to one point in the first half while building a 52-43 lead.
"Rasheed was playing great defense, and we were able to contain Dwight," Curry said. "He still had a big game inside, but we didn't give him a lot of dunks."
Howard got going with a three-point play in the opening minute of the third period, and scored 13 points in the quarter to help Orlando narrow the gap to 70-66 heading into the fourth.
Orlando caught a break early in the final period as Iverson -- an 84 percent shooter from the line -- missed a pair of free throws that could have put Detroit up by 8.
The Magic rallied and tied the game at 77 on Lewis' four-point play with 6:07 to play, and got more help when Wallace was called for a technical foul with 4:49 left.
But Lewis missed the free throw and Wallace immediately made it 82-77 with a 3-pointer.
"We were able to fight back into the game, but we then turned the ball over and made a lot of mistakes," Lewis said. "We were still fighting, but we couldn't make that one play."
- Orlando lost reserve guard Mickael Pietrus to a sprained right wrist in the second quarter. Pietrus was dunking when he banged into Detroit's Jason Maxiell and landed awkwardly on his back and arm.
- Curry said he wasn't sure what he will do with his starting lineup when Hamilton is ready to return. Detroit had been using a three-guard offense, but has gone back to a more traditional two-guard setup while he has been sidelined.