SALT LAKE CITY • Taking over National Basketball Association games is quickly becoming Rodney Hood's personal trademark.
He lights a fire under the Utah Jazz offence every time he shoots these days.
That was certainly the case in a 94-85 victory over the Cleveland Cavaliers on Monday. The second-year guard rattled off 28 points on 9-of-16 shooting, which included four three-pointers.
He provided a huge lift for Utah in the absence of leading scorer Gordon Hayward, who missed the game due to plantar fasciitis.
"My team-mates were telling me to be aggressive," Hood said. "I got going early, and stuff started to open up."
Shelvin Mack added 17 points, 10 assists and seven rebounds, while Derrick Favors chipped in 19 points and Trey Lyles added 12 points for the Jazz (32-35).
They shot 44.4 per cent (12-for-27) from the perimeter to help secure their third consecutive victory and keep pace with the Dallas Mavericks and the Houston Rockets in the battle for eighth seed in the Western Conference play-offs.
The Mavericks and Rockets, both 34-33, are each two games ahead of the Jazz.
LeBron James scored 23 points and collected 12 rebounds, notching his 23rd double-double of the season to lead Cleveland.
Kyrie Irving chipped in with 15 points and Kevin Love added 12.
Cleveland (47-19), who had won three straight games and six of seven before falling to the Jazz, were doomed by poor perimeter shooting, connecting on just 23.8 per cent of their three-pointers, 10 of 42.
"We had our chance," James said. "We definitely settled for the outside shot too much and didn't get into the paint. They did a great job of capitalising on our mistakes."
The Jazz also thwarted the Cavaliers' chance of going 4-0 on their Western road trip.
"It leaves a bad taste in your mouth," Love said.
"It's bittersweet. We wanted to go 4-0, but three out of four on a road trip where we played two back-to-backs is not bad. We seek perfection. We always want to be better."
In Oakland, California, Golden State Warriors' Stephen Curry had plenty to celebrate on Monday, pouring in a game-high 27 points on his 28th birthday as his team stayed perfect at home - 49th straight - this season with a 125-107 victory over the New Orleans Pelicans.
The Warriors improved to 60-6, becoming the fastest team in league history to reach 60 wins and the first since the 2007-09 Boston Celtics to record 60 wins in back-to-back campaigns.
"It's a major accomplishment," coach Steve Kerr said.
With 16 games remaining, they continue to chase the record of 72 wins set by the 1995-96 Chicago Bulls.
REUTERS, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE