The Sixers have won three in a row, their longest winning streak of the season. After starting the season with a 4-11 record, they have won 11 of their last 19 games.
If it is indeed better to be lucky than good, the Sixers were fortunate enough to be a bit of both against Indiana.
They got not one, but two inbounds passes from Hornacek in desperate situations that kept them from losing. Hornacek was perfect on both passes. The results weren't all luck, because Hornacek is a good passer, but they weren't all skill, because nobody is that good.
"He can make passes like that," said Barros, whose last game-winning shot was at Boston Garden but came against Georgetown when Barros was a senior at Boston College. "Those were the good old days, but I'm telling you, these days are getting pretty good, too."
Ahead by 16 points midway through the third period, the Sixers went into a severe offensive slump and allowed the Pacers to get right back in the game early in the final period.
The Pacers came all the way back to take a 92-91 lead with 5.5 seconds left when Reggie Miller drove the baseline for a reverse layup.
Then it was time for Hornacek's first miracle. He lobbed an inbounds pass
from midcourt to a breaking Clarence Weatherspoon, putting the ball just in front of the rim.
"I wasn't real sure of where I was because I had to take my eyes off the rim to get through people," Weatherspoon said. "I got the ball and looked up, and the rim was right there."
Weatherspoon gently placed the ball behind his head and through the net to give the Sixers a 93-92 lead.
Unfortunately, that particular miracle came too soon. The Pacers had enough time to run a play for guard Haywoode Workman, who was fouled but made just one free throw to force the overtime.
In the extra period, the Sixers were on the verge of losing control before back-to-back jumpers by Shawn Bradley and Weatherspoon put them ahead, 100-97.
But a Miller three-pointer evened the game, and it stayed even until there was just that lonely half-second remaining, with Hornacek standing again with the ball.
"It went just the way Jeff said it would," Barros said. "I got a step on Reggie (Miller) because I think he took his eye off me just for a second. I
cut, and the ball was just there. It couldn't have been more perfect."
Barros played 332 NBA games without recording a double-double but now has done it twice in a row. He had 20 points and a career-high 13 assists last night.
"I wanted to keep the win streak alive," said Barros, who played 50 minutes. "If we had lost eight in a row and won like this, it wouldn't have been as big a deal."
"I wouldn't call either one an impossible task," Hornacek said of his two gaudy assists. "I was a quarterback in high school."
"It's a game of H-O-R-S-E," Miller said with a shrug.
If the Sixers' roster were a horse, it might have been shot last night. Three players were unable to go, including both backup centers.
Shawn Bradley was under orders to stay out of foul trouble because of the thin corps, and he played very well after picking up two fouls early in the game. He had 15 points, eight rebounds and six blocked shots.
The Sixers begin a tough three-game road trip tonight against the Cleveland Cavaliers. They'll probably again be without Eric Leckner, who has the flu, and they'll definitely be without Moses Malone, whose back hurts, and Johnny Dawkins, whose injured right shoulder is in a sling.
But the Sixers are becoming used to overcoming adversity, even if it is sometimes self-imposed.
"This winning streak is a tribute to the team," coach Fred Carter said. ''We have big road games in front of us, and what we have to do is keep showing that kind of character."