AUBURN HILLS, Mich. -- Eric Gordon drove through the lane, and his floater gave New Orleans the lead with 1.9 seconds left.
Then, remarkably, the Pelicans never really had to go back and defend.
"That's on them," Gordon said. "We'll take the win."
Detroit lost even after a 30-4 run in the third quarter put the Pistons ahead 78-62. New Orleans reeled off the next nine points to pull within striking distance.
The Pelicans took a 99-98 lead when Anthony Davis was credited with a tip-in, and it was 101-98 after Anthony Morrow's two free throws with 30.8 seconds left.
Detroit's Rodney Stuckey drew a foul with 27.4 seconds left. He made the first free throw and missed the second, but New Orleans couldn't come up with the rebound. Jennings missed a 3-pointer, but Josh Smith rebounded and made a layup to tie it at 101 with 19 seconds to play.
Gordon patiently ran the clock down, spun past rookie Kentavious Caldwell-Pope near the free throw line and finished at the basket with a high floater.
"It was for me to get it up top, one on one," Gordon said. "It's all about making that last judgment, and trying to get a good shot."
After Jennings' final miss, Detroit coach Maurice Cheeks stood near his bench yelling for a timeout.
"I tried to call a timeout," Cheeks said. "That timeout is on me."
Detroit wasted a 28-point performance from Jennings and 21 points and 20 rebounds from Andre Drummond. Morrow scored 21 points for New Orleans, which won for only the second time in 11 games.
Morrow had been sick and hadn't played in more than a week.
"Being sick and kind of being out of the rotation -- just got to fight through it," Morrow said. "Got to be a professional."
The Pelicans were without Jrue Holiday, Ryan Anderson, Jason Smith and Tyreke Evans because of injuries Friday.
Jennings scored 18 points in the third quarter. New Orleans led 58-48 early in the second half after a dunk by Alexis Ajinca. The Pistons scored the next 18 points and kept pouring it on for much of the quarter, with Jennings drawing fouls and breezing in for layups.
The Pistons capped their 18-0 run in the third with five points on one trip down the court. Smith scored while being fouled, and although he missed the free throw, Detroit came up with the ball and Jennings connected from way behind the 3-point line to make it 66-58.
Detroit spent more than half the quarter in the bonus. Jennings made two free throws to make it 68-60, then quickly stole the ball and found Caldwell-Pope for a dunk.
"Obviously, our third quarter is one of the worst third quarters we have had," Pelicans coach Monty Williams said. "The NBA is a game where there is only so long that you can come back and the 3-point ball kind of allows you to do that."
It was 80-71 after three quarters. New Orleans got another scare with 6:19 to play in the fourth when Davis fell hard under the basket and appeared to hurt his tailbone. But he was able to stay in the game.
Davis finished with 14 points. Gordon and Austin Rivers had 15 each, helping the Pelicans rally for the win.
"We just make poor decisions down the stretch of the game sometimes and we have to get better at it," Drummond said. "Nip that in the bud and try to finish games up."
Davis was the top pick in the 2012 draft. Drummond went ninth. ... New Orleans shot 73 percent from the field in the second quarter and led 54-48 at halftime. ... Holiday was out with a right leg injury, Anderson with a herniated disc, Smith with a right knee problem and Evans because of an illness.