The Nuggets were missing most of their top players, including Carmelo Anthony, Allen Iverson, Kenyon Martin and Nene.
Detroit had its full lineup, but guard Richard Hamilton left the game midway through the third quarter after spraining his left ankle while going for a rebound. Chauncey Billups added 16 points and Jason Maxiell had 16 points and 11 rebounds for the Pistons.
Michigan native Anthony Roberson led the Nuggets with 20 points, while Bobby Jones scored 17 and Von Wafer added 16. Marcus Camby was the only Denver starter to reach double figures, finishing with 10 points and 16 rebounds.
Detroit led by as many as 13 in the first half, and had a 63-54 halftime advantage. Prince had 17 of his 19 in the first half.
Denver, though, rallied in the third quarter, tying the game at 74 on Camby's fast-break dunk with three minutes left. The game was deadlocked at 79 going into the fourth, and stayed close throughout the period. Roberson's jumper pulled Denver within 105-104 with 27.6 seconds left.
Maxiell made it 107-104 with two free throws, and Roberson missed a tying 3-pointer before rookie Rodney Stuckey clinched the game from the line.