Chris' three points
1. Asked what the biggest problem was with the Wolves defense of late, coach Ryan Saunders said it was "physicality." How do you bring that into the defense? Said forward Jordan Bell: "You put your elbow into somebody's chest, boxing out, you fight over a screen a little bit harder … just little things." Bell can bring that dimension to the defense, and he has had more playing time of late, logging minutes in each of the Wolves' past five games entering Friday. He played a season-high 20:55 in the loss to Oklahoma City.
2. Since taking over primary ballhandling duties in the starting lineup, Andrew Wiggins has seen an increase in his usage percentage, which measures how often a team's possessions end with a shot attempt, turnover or trip to the free-throw line by that player while he is in the game. Wiggins' usage rate is 28%, the highest on the Wolves. That's up from 24% a season ago. Karl-Anthony Towns had a usage rate of 28% last season, and that's down a tick to 27.1%. The NBA leader in this category is Houston's James Harden at 37.4%.
3. Even though the Wolves recently completed a winless four-game streak, this season they still have played better on the road, where their record is 7-6. Their three-point shooting on the road is much better than at home — 37.6% vs. 28.7% entering Friday. The Wolves have a worse defensive rating on the road, a product of the losing streak. Their defensive rating on the road jumped from 105.1 points allowed per 100 possessions to 112.1. Opponent field-goal percentage increased from .445 to .472 during that stretch.
Around the NBA
After spending much of last season not playing, Carmelo Anthony has made his comeback to the league with Portland, after signing a one-year deal with the Trail Blazers last month that is now guaranteed for the rest of the season. He's been more than just bench filler. He has played 12 games and is averaging 16.3 points per game. He's still shooting a healthy percentage of shots from midrange, and the 35-year-old is shooting 42% overall. Portland is 5-7 since acquiring him.