The National Basketball Assn. attendance record of 43,146, set at the league's All-Star game last Sunday at the Hoosier Dome, didn't last long.
Malone scored 33 points and Erving added 29.
But 76er Coach Billy Cunningham credited a pressing defense that halted the Pistons driving offense in the second quarter.
Detroit took a 53-43 lead in the second quarter on a 16-foot jump shot by Bill Laimbeer. But the 76ers eliminated the Pistons advantage by outscoring them, 23-8, to take a 66-61 lead at halftime.
Cunningham said the press forced the Pistons to take bad shots and that turned the game around.
The 76ers took leads of 89-74 in the third quarter and 95-84 in the fourth. Detroit tried to rally but could only close the gap to nine points.
Maurice Cheeks scored 20 points and Charles Barkley added 17 for Philadelphia. Forward Terry Tyler led the Pistons with 24 points while guard Isiah Thomas had 22.
The game was delayed with 47 seconds left when a coin thrown by a fan hit referee Earl Strom on the left side of the nose and glanced off his left eye.
Strom, who was wearing contact lenses, was treated by the Pistons trainer and finished the game.
New Jersey 126, New York 117--Bernard King has scored 154 points in three games against the Nets this season, including 55 Saturday night. But in this game at New York, as in the first two contests, the Knicks lost.
King's performance, the sixth in which he's scored 50 or more in his career, brought the Knicks from a 27-point, third-quarter deficit to within two points, 112-110, in the fourth quarter.
But Buck Williams, who led New Jersey with 31 points, hit a basket and a three-point play to rebuild the lead to seven and New Jersey had the game in hand. Mike Gminski added 28 for the Nets, Micheal Ray Richardson had 26 and Otis Birdsong 22.
Nets forward Mike O'Koren suffered a broken left wrist in the fourth quarter when he fell to the floor after a collision with the Knicks' Eddie Wilson. O'Koren is expected to be sidelined at least six weeks.
Houston 122, Cleveland 115--Ralph Sampson scored 41 points to lead the Rockets to their third straight win and seventh in their last eight games.
Rodney McCray added 22 points for the Rockets. Akeem Olajuwon, however, scored only four.
Cleveland's World B. Free became the 39th player in NBA history to reach the 15,000 mark when he scored a season-high 45 points.
Kansas City 111, Seattle 106--Forward Eddie Johnson scored 34 points, including 21 in the seocnd half, as the Kings defeated the SuperSonics at Seattle.
The victory snapped Kansas City's 11-game losing streak on the road. The Kings, who had won just four of 26 road games this season, improved their season mark to 17-35. It was the sixth loss in seven games for Seattle (22-32).