Miller to Manimal brings back memories for George Karl

Three-quarter-court lob pass conjures images of Gary Payton and Shawn Kemp
by Aaron Lopez

When Nuggets coach George Karl is asked about the most memorable lob passes he’s witnessed firsthand, he almost always references Gary Payton and Shawn Kemp during the 1992 Western Conference playoffs.

With the Seattle SuperSonics and Golden State Warriors locked in a tie game, Payton tossed a fast-break alley oop to Kemp that gave the Sonics the lead with 58.2 seconds remaining.

Karl’s memory bank now has a new leading candidate.

Karl could only shake his head Wednesday night after Nuggets point guard Andre Miller threw a 70-foot alley oop pass to a streaking Kenneth Faried during Denver’s 93-87 victory over the Houston Rockets.

“I thought that ball was five rows in the seats,” Karl said Thursday. “I didn’t see the dunk because I dropped my head like it was going out of bounds.”

With athletic big men such as Faried and JaVale McGee running the floor, Miller has become a master at throwing pinpoint lobs to the rim.

“Andre can throw 10 passes that no one else in basketball can throw – and he'll complete seven of them for dunks,” Karl said during the preseason. “He might throw the other three away – I'm OK with it. It's 70 percent and they're dunks, which have a power to them, a momentum to them.”

Miller’s pass to Faried came at an important time in the game. After Patrick Patterson missed a 3-pointer that would have cut Denver’s lead to four, Miller grabbed the weakside rebound and made a two-hand chest pass that Faried converted for a flying dunk that gave the Nuggets a nine-point lead with 3:03 remaining.

Denver went on to beat Houston for the fourth straight time in the series.