AUBURN HILLS, Mich. - Video boards outside the Palace lit up the message, "Welcome Home Chris" yesterday afternoon.

Inside the home of the Detroit Pistons, former 76er Chris Webber signed a prorated contract for the veteran's minimum in the hopes of adding a championship to his NBA resumé.

"This is definitely special; I never thought I would be a Detroit Piston," Webber said during a news conference.

"I'm here in the summer, but being home with this team makes me feel good."

The five-time all-star, who grew up in Detroit and played at Michigan, became a free agent after the Sixers cut ties with him by buying out the final 11/2 years of his contract last week.

"He embodies everything we try to stand for as a basketball team and as an organization. He is what we want to be about. People of his character, his background, his upbringing, those are the kind of people we want to bring to the Detroit Pistons," said Joe Dumars, the Pistons' president of basketball operations.

"He's more than just a basketball player. There's an obvious connection to Detroit, and I'm proud to say he's more than back home, he's with the Detroit Pistons."

Detroit coach Flip Saunders said Webber would play as a reserve today against Utah.

Webber, 33, will make about $650,000 to play the rest of the season with an Eastern Conference power.

He agreed to give the Sixers $2 million this season and $2 million next season when he was due to make about $43 million over the two years.

Detroit brought Webber home, keeping him away from Eastern Conference rival Miami and the Los Angeles Lakers.

After committing to the Pistons on Monday, Webber watched them play Minnesota in a front-row seat at the Palace.

He was greeted by a rousing, standing ovation.

It was a much warmer welcome than Webber had received previously because of his involvement with deceased Michigan booster Ed Martin that led to NCAA sanctions.

"I think the reaction in the past was different for a lot of reasons - things I've gone through - but yesterday was significant because they welcomed me back home," Webber said.

When asked about the booster scandal, Webber replied: "Today, I'm talking about being a Detroit Piston. I don't think this is the forum to talk about something that happened 15 years ago," he said.

Last night's games

Hornets 84, Magic 78, OT

OKLAHOMA CITY - Jannero Pargo scored a season-high 25 points and New Orleans held Orlando to one basket in overtime to win a matchup of two cold-shooting teams.

Desmond Mason scored 21 points, and Rasual Butler had 19 points and tied his career high with 11 rebounds as New Orleans won its third straight.

Dwight Howard had 17 points and 15 rebounds for Orlando, which lost its third in a row. It was held to a season low in points and shot just 35 percent. New Orleans wasn't much better, hitting a paltry 37.5 percent.

Mavericks 109, Rockets 96

DALLAS - Dirk Nowitzki and Devean George each sparked crucial rallies with consecutive three-pointers, helping Dallas overcome 45 points by Tracy McGrady in a win over Houston.

McGrady scored 21 points in the first quarter and had 29 at halftime. He made a three-pointer that put Houston up by 65-52 midway through the third quarter, but it couldn't last.