MINNEAPOLIS — A gaggle of bench players, led by Guerschon Yabusele and Terry Rozier, doused Gordon Hayward with cups of Gatorade during a postgame television interview Saturday night.

A locker room of teammates and coaches, who watched enough of his shots rim out over the last two months to know something better was close at hand, packed up for a late-night flight through a blizzard with the joy of vacationers headed to the tropics.

Every win is crucial for these underperforming Celtics and for that reason Hayward’s first big night meant so much more.

“It’s huge,” Marcus Smart said. “It’s important for us, just for the simple fact that we’ve been through a lot of criticism from a lot of outside sources and things like that, rightfully so. We’ve got all this talent and expectations, and we hold ourselves accountable. So to see and support each other, especially when everybody else is against you, is something that you need.”

What they needed was a road win against a Timberwolves team that had just celebrated its divorce from Jimmy Butler with four straight wins. What Hayward needed, after an oft-painful and indecisive return this season, was a breakout.

The Celtics’ 118-109 win settled all accounts, at least for one night.

Hayward’s 30-point performance, which also included nine rebounds and eight assists, gave the Celtics their third straight win and fourth in their last five games.

Hayward, who had bemoaned his inability to get to the foul line a night earlier, also was 10 of 10 from the line, and started a trend. The Celtics are 29th in the league in attempted free throws, but Saturday night shot 21 of 21 from the line thanks not only to Hayward’s ability to draw contact, but a 7-of-7 night from the line from Kyrie Irving as part of his 21-point game.

“That’s just who he is, honestly,” said Irving, one of Hayward’s greatest boosters during Hayward’s return. “It took him a little bit to get his rhythm, and with the circumstances we have in Boston, we have a lot of talent.

“That and the pressure of dealing with outside expectations kind of filtered into what we have going on here. “I think we’re just tired of that (expletive) now, now we’re just playing. Gordon’s being Gordon now, guys are competing at both ends of the floor. We have pretty much a veteran group here with some young guys, but they’ve seen a lot – played overseas or played in high-level games. Having that experience definitely works in our favor. Gordon brings that experience out there. I’m proud of him.”

Hayward, who already has missed enough open looks to stock a season over the last two months, finally could relax for one late night flight home.

“It felt good. It felt really good to be out there,” he said. “I think more importantly, we won tonight. It was a great team win for us. For me to be as involved as I was, it felt really good.

“I’ve continued to put in the work. My teammates found me and I was able to knock down the first couple 3s that I shot. When you see a couple go in, it makes the basket look a little bit wider, and they continued to find me down the stretch for some open ones.”

Overall, the team played some of its best basketball.

“I’ve seen it so many times and seen it in practice,” Coach Brad Stevens said of what Hayward has shown over the last week. “We saw it on Wednesday in practice that it was coming. It’s just a matter of time. This has not been easy for him. All he’s done is grit his teeth, been a great teammate and worked hard. I think there’s a lot to be said about that.”