The Pistons, who reached the Eastern Conference Finals for the third straight season last year, also got 15 points from Richard Hamilton. He made four free throws over the final 30 seconds to protect the lead.
The game marked the head coaching debut for Detroit's Michael Curry, who follows Flip Saunders, who was fired in June after the Pistons lost in the conference finals for the third straight year under his direction.
Danny Granger scored 33 points for the Pacers. T.J. Ford, who came to Indiana in a summertime trade with Toronto, scored 10 points with five assists.
The Pistons owned a 16-point lead early in the fourth quarter and saw it cut to two with 4:41 to play.