The playoff-bound Knicks are riding a three-game winning streak, and Chauncey Billups is playing the best ball of his brief tenure in New York. The two facts are not unrelated, as the veteran point guard is not only healthy but quickly getting assimilated into the fast pace coach Mike D'Antoni wants to play.

Billups had 23 points and seven assists in last night's 123-107 win over the Cavaliers with 17 in the first quarter alone on 6-of-6 shooting as the Knicks jumped out to a 36-25 lead.

"This was a game we needed to get," Billups said. "This team has dominated us the whole season.

"I was feeling it. I wanted to come out and be aggressive. I knew it was a big game and somebody needed to come out and set the tone for the team, and I did that. Knowing I wasn't going to keep getting those shots all night, I set them up, and once they started trapping me somebody else would get going."

Through his first dozen Knicks appearances -- interrupted by missing five straight games with a bruised left quadriceps -- Billups averaged 4.9 assists and 2.9 turnovers. In the past four, he has piled up 29 assists without a single turnover.

"Chauncey was where he left off the other night. He played well, shot the ball well, he had a terrific game, no doubt about it," D'Antoni said. "That's a big deal, no doubt. With him being that aggressive, he's always a threat to get to the foul line and score, and we need that. Hopefully he'll stay like that. That'll be great."