Way back when, the alley-oop was a rarity, the sort of play automatically ensured of inclusion in highlight reels no matter the level of artistry involved. These days, oops are far more common, enough so that a single quarter might feature a handful. Our highlight bar is far higher than it was in the past. The upside to this situation is that, when a play clears that bar, it's usually really good.
Such was the case on Wednesday night in the final minutes of the Denver Nuggets' road contest against the Houston Rockets. With the Rockets down 87-80 with just over three minutes remaining in regulation, Nuggets guard Andre Miller grabbed a rebound and began to push the ball up the court. However, forward Kenneth Faried had already leaked out and had a step or two on the closest defender. Miller, one of the best alley-oop passers of his era, found the streaking Faried from well beyond mid-court for the dunk. The Nuggets had a nine-point lead, and they ended up winning 93-87.
Yet the length was far from the most impressive aspect of the play. Miller not only threw it far — he found Faried while he was running at full-speed and delivered the ball in the perfect spot. But it never would have worked if not for the incredible athleticism of Faried, who took off from several hashmarks down the key, caught the ball at the apex of his jump, and slammed it home easily. The timing was perfect all around.
Some alley-oops are astonishing because of acrobatics or angles. This one, though, was fantastic for the amazing level of precision required of both players.
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