To be the champ you have to beat the champ. And the Spurs simply refused to bow out against the upstart Hornets.
Manu Ginobili led with 26 points and Tim Duncan added a double-double of 16 and 14 rebounds as San Antonio advanced with a 91-82 victory over New Orleans in Game 7 of the Western Conference Semifinal series at New Orleans Arena on Monday.
The Spurs, looking for their fifth championship in 10 years, advance to meet the Lakers in the Western Conference Finals. Game 1 is set for 9 p.m. ET Wednesday in Los Angeles.
New Orleans, which won a franchise-record 56 victories in the regular season, had not lost in six home playoff games prior to Monday. No Hornets team has advanced to a conference finals in the 20-year history of the franchise.
It was a rare road victory as the home teams went 22-3 in the second round.
San Antonio, which was down 2-0 and beaten handily in the three previous road games in this series, had to weather a late surge by the hosts after leading most of the way. The Hornets, down 13 early in the fourth quarter, used a 13-3 run to cut the lead to four with under three minutes to play.
Jannero Pargo hit a jumper to make it a three-point game with 1:35 left, but the Hornets would get no closer. Pargo missed a tying 3-pointer with 1:07 left.
Tony Parker, who finished with 17 points, got the lead back to five for the Spurs by nailing a jumper with 50.1 seconds remaining and they closed it out from there.
David West, who started despite a bad back, led New Orleans with 20 points. Chris Paul, who had 18 points and 14 assists, fouled out with 25 seconds left. Pargo had 18 points and Tyson Chandler had a double-double with 13 points and 15 rebounds.
Ginobili, who had 25 in the Spursí blowout win in Game 6, scored 11 points in the second quarter of this one, as San Antonio built a nine-point halftime lead.