Remember all those troubles San Antonio was having at home in the first quarter of the season? That's not the case of late as the Spurs carry a nine-game home winning streak into play on Tuesday, when they host the Milwaukee Bucks at the AT&T Center in San Antonio.
The Spurs (30-7) won their fourth straight game and 13th in the last 15 outings Saturday with a 102-85 walloping of Charlotte.
The key performance in that victory was not by erstwhile all-stars Kawhi Leonard or LaMarcus Aldridge; it was by rookie reserve forward Davis Bertans, who scored a season-high 21 points and allowed the Spurs to prevail easily in a game that featured 13 ties and 20 lead changes.
Bertans, San Antonio's latest international discovery, is a 6-foot-10 forward from Latvia who's endured a pair of knee surgeries since 2013. He averaged just 2.6 points in 9.6 minutes per game until Saturday while seeing the floor in 24 of the team's 37 contests.
"He's been doing that all preseason, practice and even when he's played he's shown bits and pieces of it," Spurs guard Danny Green said. "It finally translated over to the game. We expect him to play like that. Hopefully this game is a confidence builder for him."
Bertans hit 4 of his 5 3-point shots against the Hornets but also brought the house down with a huge running dunk off a first-quarter inbounds play.
"Charlotte was trying to lock up Aldridge and double-team him, so it just opened up the 3-point line for everyone else and he did a great job of finding other players." Bertans said after the win. "Of course I'm happy that the shot went in -- most of them were wide-open looks that I'm used to shooting."
Bertans joined San Antonio this season after playing in Europe. He was drafted by Indiana with the 42nd overall pick in 2011 and was a piece of the draft-day trade that garnered Leonard for the Spurs and sent George Hill to the Pacers.
He'll be another weapon for the Bucks (18-18) to worry about as Milwaukee makes its only regular-season trip to the Alamo City.
Milwaukee lost two straight, including a 107-101 setback at home Sunday to Washington in which star guard Giannis Antetokounmpo was ill and didn't play.
Antetokounmpo, Milwaukee's leader in every major statistical category, posted at least 20 points in 14 consecutive games, matching the longest streak by a Bucks player since Michael Redd in 2006.
Mirza Teletovic got the start at the point in his place while Michael Beasley and Jason Terry also saw extended action.
Jabari Parker led Milwaukee with 28 points. Malcolm Brogdon finished with a career-high 22 points and Beasley scored 18 points in 16 minutes off the bench.
"They did a really good job of responding without Giannis," Bucks coach Jason Kidd said of his team. "They played well, they played hard enough to win. Coaching, I have to do a better job. We just weren't prepared -- we weren't ready this afternoon."
Milwaukee shot 46.3 percent and made 9 of 23 3-pointers against Washington but hit only 7 of 19 shots in the third, including an 0-for-4 mark from beyond the arc, as an eight-point halftime lead turned into a four-point deficit to start the fourth.
"Our third quarters have been terrible," Terry said. "We've been coming out with a lack of energy and a lack of focus. Sometimes, you're going to lose games at the end but you can also lose them at any other point in the game."
After missing five games with a sore right hamstring, Matthew Dellavedova returned for the Bucks. Brogdon, who moved into the starting lineup when Dellavedova was injured, remained with the starting group while Dellavedova came off the bench.
San Antonio defeated the Bucks, 97-96, on Dec. 5 in Milwaukee. The Bucks have dropped nine straight games to San Antonio, and 13 of the last 14. The Bucks' last win against the Spurs came on Jan. 10, 2012 in a 106-103 victory in Milwaukee.