TORONTO -- Back and forth they went, haymaker upon haymaker until they nearly had nothing left.
Boxing symbolism can be trite, but what better way to describe Saturday night's slugfest between second-year Zach LaVine and Aaron Gordon in the NBA Slam Dunk competition?
They used creativity, assistants and incandescence to combine for an NBA Slam Dunk record four straight perfect scores. Then they added two more 50s for six flawless jams in a row that thrilled the Air Canada Centre crowd.
LaVine needed an overtime round. With his fifth perfecto in six attempts -- his only blemish was a 49 -- he defended his title from last year.
"We did some things that nobody else did," LaVine said. "Half the dunks we did were like professional-dunker dunks, and it takes them four or five times to try it and make it, and we did it on the first try. It was crazy."
LaVine's victory came one night after winning MVP in the Rising Stars Challenge. The Minnesota Timberwolves guard tied two others with a game-high 30 points, grabbed a team-high seven rebounds and added four assists.
Few will remember that scrimmage. Fans will talk about his battle with Gordon for years to come. The show was reminiscent of the Slam Dunk competition's glory years in the late 1980s.
They traded so many blows, they ran out of dunks.
"If I knew it was going to be like that," Gordon said, "I would have prepared better and we would have been here dunking all night, going back 50 after 50 after 50 after 50."
The other two candidates, Denver Nuggets forward Will Barton and Detroit Pistons center Andre Drummond, had as much chance to win as Martin O'Malley and Mike Huckabee in the presidential race.
Barton and Drummond were dispatched quickly, leaving the court to Hagler and Hearns.
Gordon relied on help from mascot Stuff the Magic Dragon for a few imaginative attempts.
On one, Stuff rotated on a hoverboard with the ball in one outstretched hand, like a spinning Bob's Big Boy holding that hamburger. Gordon timed the jump, snagged the ball, cupped a hand behind his head a la Deion Sanders on a touchdown run and threw it down.
Gordon's next try was from along the baseline. Stuff stood under the hoop with the ball on its head. Gordon grabbed the ball palm-down, soared in an almost-seated position, brought the ball between his thighs and dunked from the opposite side of the rim.
"I knew I wanted to do that because it was just different," Gordon said of going beneath the legs rather than the standard through the legs. "I knew it hadn't been done in an NBA Dunk contest.
"I think all four of my initial dunks had never been done in an NBA Dunk contest before. So I think that was my goal, and I did it."
Gordon's head peaked above the rim on multiple dunks.
The 6-foot-5 LaVine, four inches shorter, was more straightforward yet no less technically perfect.
While Gordon clearly had choreographed his night, arriving for his first dunk in a suit and with a walking cane, LaVine seemed to make his decisions on the fly. He unleashed a classic Statue of Liberty from the foul line for one of his perfect scores.
"I was prepared for four" rounds, LaVine said. "To tell the truth, he came with something that no one else has done. He did two dunks that were just crazy with the mascots, jumping over them. We just kept pushing each other until the last dunk."
His winning slam -- after Gordon unsuccessfully fiddled with a bank pass off the shot clock and received a 47 on his last make -- was a windmill from a step inside the foul line.
"At the end of the day, we both didn't have dunks," LaVine said. "He was trying to throw it off the shot clock. He was, like, 'I've never tried that before.'
"We were looking in our bag of tricks. Ain't nothing left. I just found a little piece of dust."