MINNEAPOLIS Dante Cunningham is not among the league leaders in steals. Not steals per minute, either. Steals per clutch moment, though if that were a stat, you have to know the forward would be up there.
With 15 seconds remaining in the Timberwolves' 108-103 win over Atlanta on Tuesday, Cunningham lurched the ball away from Josh Smith, ensuring a foul, two free throws, and a Minnesota win. Oh, and that was just a split second after he'd planted himself in his sweet spot, a hair to the left of the basket and a smidge inside the 3-point line, and iced a mid-range jumper to give the Timberwolves a three-point lead.
So let's do the math: Cunningham misses that shot, and it's still 104-103, with the game completely in Atlanta's control. Cunningham doesn't nab that steal, and the Hawks have a chance to make any shot and win it. Any shot, any swish through that net, however ugly, and the game would have been blown.
The shots hadn't been falling for Cunning...