Corey Brewer added 15 points and Andre Iguodala had 12 points and eight rebounds for the Nuggets, who rallied from a slow start in which they trailed by as many as 17 in the first quarter. JaVale McGee also had 12 points for Denver.
Brandon Knight had 20 points and five assists for the Pistons. Jason Maxiell added 18 points, six blocks and six rebounds, and Rodney Stuckey scored 17 points.
Danilo Gallinari hit a 3-pointer with 1:48 left to give the Nuggets a 96-89 lead before Lawson's driving layup with 1:15 remaining pushed it to 98-89.
After Stuckey pulled the Pistons within two on a layup with 7:27 remaining, Andre Miller's three-point play with 7:11 left and Brewer's 3-pointer with 6:45 to go put the Nuggets up 82-74.
Lawson's driving floater at the buzzer gave Denver a 72-66 lead after three quarters. The Nuggets led 48-42 at the half after outscoring the Pistons 31-17 in the second quarter - including 20-6 in the finals seven minutes of the first half.
McGee's breakaway dunk tied it at 41 with 3:17 left in the second and Lawson hit a layup with 2:12 remaining in the first half to give Denver its first lead of the game, 43-41.
Detroit raced off to fast start and led 21-4 with 5:22 left in the first quarter after Greg Monroe hit a pair of free throws.
(Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved)