Markelle Fultz breaking through with best basketball at critical time

Markelle Fultz has really stepped up in his last two games with great scoring and confidence. This kind of play down the stretch come playoff time is something Orlando can really use.
Orlando Magic v Charlotte Hornets
Orlando Magic v Charlotte Hornets / Jacob Kupferman/GettyImages

The Orlando Magic need all hands on deck with the NBA Playoffs right around the corner. They have four games left in their season and find themselves battling for the 3-seed and even the 2-seed with a tough road ahead.

Every game is important and the Magic need everyone on their roster at their best heading into the final week of the regular season.

Markelle Fultz has answered that all-hands-on-deck call. His last two games have shown a breakthrough with his scoring and a ton more confidence in his shooting. Coach Jamahl Mosley has given him tons of playing time too as Fultz played a key role to give the Magic energy in the last two games.

Fultz turned in 17 points on 8-for-12 shooting with six rebounds in the Orlando Magic's win over the Chicago Bulls on Sunday. That followed 15 points on 6-for-11 shooting in the loss to the Charlotte Hornets on Friday, his first back-to-back games with 10 points or more since Jan. 31/Feb. 2.

For Fultz it has been a breakthrough for him during a rough season.

This season has been an injury-heavy one for Fultz. He has played in just 38 games this season compared to the 60 he played in a season ago.

He has averaged only 7.8 points per game and 2.9 assists per game, both lows since his arrival in Orlando. His jumper has looked especially rough too. His confidence as a shooter wanted.

This has really kept him from finding any sort of chemistry and rhythm within his game on a night-in and night-out basis.

But the last two games and last few weeks have seen Fultz return to his confidence as a mid-range shooter at least. He followed that up by taking two and making two 3-pointers in Sunday's game (one was overturned for his foot being on the line).

That confidence from Fultz is starting to return. And the faith the Magic had in him is starting to get rewarded.

"Even my injuries here [in Orlando], my teammates are very supportive," Fultz said after Sunday's win. "They always wrapped their arms around me and believed in what I could do with my abilities...I am forever thankful for that. I always go out there and try to play with joy."

Fultz's future is still uncertain as the Playoffs approach. His role on the team for the Playoff push is still uncertain.

The Magic have been unsure how to make the most of Fultz this year.

It put Fultz at the center of Magic trade rumors back during the deadline period based on how the team was growing and winning even without his presence on the court.

But, the Magic held onto Fultz to keep some of the depth that has been strong all season. Orlando's bench ranks fourth in the league in scoring at 41.6 points per game. Fultz has been a part of that, especially in the last two games with the season rolling toward its end.

Despite an ugly loss to the Hornets, the magic got the bench scoring they have been getting all season and a lot of it came from Fultz. He finished the game with 15 points on 6-for-11 shooting from the field with three more points coming from the free throw line going perfect there.

This was nice to see from Fultz as he has not been big in getting to the line a lot in games which is something Orlando is strong at. He has only been averaging 0.8 free throw attempts per game.

This continued the next game against the Bulls, where the Magic found themselves on the winning end. Fultz had a season-high 17 points on 8-for-12 shooting from the field and even knocked in a three-pointer which was helpful considering the Magic had an off night from behind the arc as a team shooting 32.4 percent.

Coach Jamahl Mosley may be beginning to grow confident with Fultz too as he has given him 32 and 23 in minutes in the Charlotte and Chicago games respectively. It is the most he has played during a two-game stretch during this season in quite some time.

Fultz has earned that confidence too. He is more aggresively looking for his shot and more comfortable looking for his mid-range jumper. Opponents may still play well off him -- the Bulls used Nikola Vucevic as a primary defender to allow Vucevic to shadow the paint -- but Fultz is starting to eat up that extra space he is given and find his shot.

As Fultz said after Sunday's game, he still feels his best is yet to come as he puts the injuries behind him.

This output from Fultz has been part of his incredible comeback story. It gives Orlando a great veteran example to follow as their young squad heads into the NBA playoffs -- Fultz's leadership was on display in the fourth quarter of Sunday's win too.

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With everyone needing to put their best brand of basketball forward, Fultz is lighting the way towards doing so and giving others a reason to follow.