Welcome to the "10 things" recap by theScore features writer William Lou. These are the major takeaways from the Toronto Raptors' 140-138 double-overtime victory over the Washington Wizards on Sunday.
Excruciating: After a hot start, the Raptors needed double-overtime to dismiss the Wizards in one of their uglier performances of the season. Toronto raced out to a 27-10 advantage, led by as many as 23, and consistently maintained a double-digit lead until the final six minutes of regulation.
Determination: Washington's Bradley Beal was a man possessed and refused to concede the game despite Toronto's early dominance. Beal relentlessly attacked the basket, repeatedly found the open man when being double-teamed, and was masterful at coming around screens to get his shot off. He notched his second career triple-double - totaling 43 points, 10 rebounds, 15 assists, three steals, and two blocks across 55 minutes - but somehow, it still wasn't enough.
Confidence: Serge Ibaka was the unlikely hero, as he drilled the game-winning three to put the Raptors ahead for good. Ibaka had just seven points on 2-of-8 shooting prior to the game-winner, and he could have easily swung the ball to a wide-open Kyle Lowry at the top of the key, but he chose to fake the pass to create room before swishing the shot.
History: Ibaka joined a long line of Raptors players who've shattered the hearts of Wizards fans over the years. Earlier this season, Fred VanVleet scooped up a loose ball and hit a fading one-legged jumper to seal a win in D.C. Other names on the list include Cory Joseph, Chris Bosh, DeMar DeRozan, Anthony Parker, and of course, the Morris Peterson miracle.
Dominant: Kawhi Leonard was the only player to score for the Raptors in the first overtime, and he practically willed the team to victory with 41 points, 11 rebounds, five assists, and a handful of key defensive stops on Beal. Leonard clearly has another gear that he can reach for in big games, and that bodes well for the playoffs.
Concern: Leonard was bothered by left leg tightness from the third quarter onward and moved with a slight limp. He stuck it out and played 45 minutes against Washington, but his health is something to monitor moving forward.
Connection: Leonard continues to show improved chemistry with Pascal Siakam. He found a cutting Siakam with a bullet pass on a high-low feed, and again when Siakam flashed to the rim while Leonard was posting up. The next step will be to maintain that approach in crunch time, as the Raptors have a habit of settling into stagnant isolations when it matters most.
Questionable: Raptors coach Nick Nurse needs to rethink his end-of-game play-calling. One set that he repeatedly goes to despite limited success is when Kyle Lowry sets a ball screen for Leonard in hopes of creating a mismatch. Teams are simply beating that play by showing high and forcing Leonard to backpedal before recovering back to the same matchups. Leonard doesn't quite have the handle to attack and beat the trap, and teams are generally fine with conceding shots to Lowry at the end of games.
Worrisome: Lowry came up with a handful of hustle plays, including a steal at the final buzzer, but he often fades in crunch time. Washington dared Lowry to score by taking away pocket passes to Ibaka and Siakam, and he simply couldn't do it. Lowry was also exploited at the other end by bigger wings like Beal, Otto Porter, and even Tomas Satoransky.
Fading: Siakam was a monster early on, but he looked lost when the game got tight. The freestyle drives went away, there were no more points to be had in transition, and he couldn't hit open threes. Siakam still contributed with his hustle on the offensive glass, but his disappearance was another reason the Raptors became stagnant in crunch time.