The Spurs have done this before. Playoffs, must wins, huge road games; it's old hat to them. They haven't always come through but they've been down this path.
The Spurs experience wasn't evident in the quality of their play, but it was obvious in how they played. The Big Three combined to shoot 18-53 with nine turnovers, but they played energetic and determined basketball all night. They never looked worried or doubtful. Was it arrogance? No, it was knowing the danger and futility of doubt.
The Hornets, meanwhile, seemed to linger on the fringes of the game, like they expected their youth, exuberance, and the fact that 99% of NBA fans were rooting for them to be enough. Paul, their anointed leader, put up impressive numbers but seemed timid and diminutive down the stretch. Too often he passed up uncontested 18 footers, opting to probe and probe, looking for the beautiful lob pass, the deft lay off for a 3-point dagger, or the and-1 that would put the pesky Oberto in his place. But sometimes basketball isn't a beautiful game. Elegance and subtlety always give way to stronger forces out of necessity.
Tonight the Spurs were the stronger force. While the Hornets were going to Jannero Pargo down the stretch, the Spurs were getting the same wide open threes they had gotten all game. While Peja forced contested threes, Michael Finley calmly drained the only two shots he took: two wide open, in rhythm jumpers.
Throughout the series the Hornets never managed to find a way to win a game where they didn't play high-quality basketball. The Spurs, in a game 7 on the road, did. And, having already packed their bags before leaving San Antonio, they're on their way straight to L.A.
Was that arrogant? Hell yes. But like I said, they've done this before.