Carmelo Anthony had 18 points, 10 rebounds and seven assists — shaking off trade talk for another day — to help the Nuggets win for the seventh time in nine games.
The Pistons, who had won five of seven, trailed by one with a few minutes left. Anthony converted a three-point play and Billups found his range from deep as Denver ended a 14-game losing streak in Auburn Hills.
Billups had lost his previous two games as an ex-Pistons star at The Palace, where the 2004 NBA finals MVP is still adored by the fans and owner Karen Davidson, who shouted encouraging words at him in the final seconds.
Pistons guard Rodney Stuckey left the game late in the first quarter with a bruised right shoulder after colliding with Anthony. Stuckey's potential played a role in Detroit dealing Billups in an unpopular and unsuccessful deal.
The Nuggets were without center Nene because of a strained right calf and Shelden Williams, who replaced him in the lineup, had 13 points. Arron Afflalo, another former Detroit player, scored 17 and Al Harrington had 10 points.
Tayshaun Prince scored 10 for the Pistons, who scored the first nine points of the game, then lost the lead and struggled to take control against a banged-up team playing for the second straight night on the road.
Denver didn't have Kenyon Martin, choosing to let him rest, and Chris Anderson, who is still recovering from surgery on his right knee.
But it had enough to win on the road against Detroit for the first time since March 10, 1995.
NOTES: The Pistons were valued at $360 million — a 25-percent decline since last year — in Forbes' annual evaluation of NBA teams. Platinum Equity chairman Tom Gores, Tigers and Red Wings owner Mike Ilitch and The Postolos Group president George Postolos have expressed an interest in buying the team. ... Denver's JR Smith, who didn't play Tuesday against Washington because he missed the shootaround, had eight points and made a spectacular dunk in the second half. ... Richard Hamilton missed the game with the flu, but he likely wouldn't have played even if he was healthy because the Pistons have had some relative success since benching him.