Carmelo Anthony didn't know Samardo Samuels' name last night, but he knows it this morning.
At this rate, it won't be long until the rest of the league does, too.
Samuels followed up his career night against the San Antonio Spurs on Wednesday with another career night at Madison Square Garden for far different reasons. His strength and toughness got the attention of the Knicks, and particularly Anthony, who didn't seem to like it very much.
Samuels took three charges, baited Anthony into a technical and did enough of the little things to allow the Cavs to sneak out of the Garden with another stunning win over the clearly perplexed Knicks.
"I really don't want to say it is embarrassing, but it is a tough loss," Anthony said.
Added Amar'e Stoudemire: "The motto is to beat the teams we are supposed to beat. Tonight was a big game for us, but we let that slip away."
Samuels was a big reason for it. He went to high school in Newark, N.J., which is still considered the New York City area. He was the high school player of the year and he drove Anthony batty.
"I don't even know his name," Anthony said. "Samar, Sam, I don't even know his name, that guy who took the charge."
Samuels' attitude has seemed to change since the All-Star break. He's more focused, a little more determined and a little more confident. That "just happy to be here" mentality has been replaced by a quiet swagger and belief that he exists in this league.
The more Scott says Samuels can play in this league for the next decade, and the more Samuels plays this physical and aggressive, the more it looks absolutely true. He even knocked down an open 17 foot jumper tonight when the Knicks dared him to shoot.
It's a shot Samuels has always possessed, but rarely displayed. He's got great feet (he's a former soccer player), he's got incredible strength and a surprisingly soft touch on his shot.
The kid can play. The rest of the league is noticing.
J.J. Hickson 23 points, eight rebounds
Baron Davis 18 points, five assists
Luke Harangody 18 points, four rebounds
Samardo Samuels 15 points, six rebounds
Amar'e Stoudemire 41 points*, nine rebounds
Carmelo Anthony 29 points, five rebounds
Landry Fields 17 points, six rebounds
** - career high, * - season high
Baron Davis' 3-pointer with 10.6 seconds left extended the Cavs' lead to 116-112 and crippled the Knicks' chances at victory.
The Cavs are 3-0 against the playoff-bound Knicks this season.
They said it
"Any guy that comes in and plays as hard as Samardo does and has a little chip on his shoulder irritates a lot of guys. I thought he was irritating Amar'e as well. They got a little chippy at times, but that’s how he has to play in this league. He has to be a very aggressive, physical basketball player and he’s been doing that the last week or so." -- Cavs coach Byron Scott on Samardo Samuels
The Cavs (12-49) host the New Orleans Hornets (36-28) at 6:30 p.m. on Sunday.
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