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Paul Sancya, Associated Press
Detroit Pistons center Ben Wallace (6) blocks a Orlando Magic shooting guard J.J. Redick (7) shot in the first quarter of an NBA basketball game in Auburn Hills, Mich., Monday, Jan. 2, 2012.

AUBURN HILLS, Mich. — Ben Gordon scored 26 points, and the Detroit Pistons overcame some early foul trouble in an impressive defensive effort against Dwight Howard and Orlando, beating the Magic 89-78 on Monday night.

Rodney Stuckey and Tayshaun Prince scored 14 points apiece for the Pistons, who have won two in a row after losing their first three games of the season.

Howard had 19 points, seven rebounds and five steals before fouling out with 2:46 remaining on an illegal screen.

Orlando (4-2) was playing a night after rallying to beat Toronto, but the Magic were outplayed by Detroit in the second half.

Orlando shot 44 percent from the field and 8 of 22 from 3-point range. Hedo Turkoglu and Ryan Anderson each scored 13 points for the Magic.

Lawrence Frank is in his first season as Detroit's coach, and the emphasis appears to be on defense early on. Charlie Villanueva and Austin Daye played a combined 49 seconds, with Frank instead using Damien Wilkins in a reserve role on the perimeter.

Howard scored 12 points in the first half while Detroit's big men struggled to remain on the court with him. Greg Monroe picked up his second foul just 4:55 into the first quarter. Jason Maxiell replaced him and picked up two in 83 seconds.

Maxiell had four fouls by the end of the first half, but Gordon scored 17 points in the first two quarters to keep it close. Orlando led 46-44 at halftime.

By midway through the third, Monroe's foul count was up to four, but Maxiell was ready to step in. After Howard caught the ball in good position inside, the 6-foot-7 Maxiell came up from behind and smacked the ball away as the Orlando star appeared in position for another easy basket.

Gordon gave the Pistons a 66-60 lead late in the quarter when his forced 3-pointer at the end of the shot clock went in.

Early in the fourth, Detroit rookie Brandon Knight missed from outside but was able to grab an offensive rebound and lay the ball in after Ben Wallace kept it alive. The Pistons led 72-65 at that point, and Orlando called a timeout to regroup.

Chris Duhon made a 3-pointer for Orlando, but the Magic could pull no closer than four points late in the game. They trailed 85-78 when Jameer Nelson missed from outside with about a minute remaining, and the Pistons had no trouble closing the game out from there.

Monroe capped Detroit's victory with a breakaway dunk with 29 seconds to play.

Notes: The Pistons outrebounded Orlando 39-28. ... Monroe had 10 points and nine rebounds in 22:35. Maxiell had nine points in 16:02.