Jordan McLaughlin had never before made four three-pointers in an NBA game.

He had also never starred in a playoff game two days after playing as many minutes as Crunch.

One of the best things about Timberwolves coach Chris Finch — other than, you know, his coaching — is his self-deprecating honesty.

He didn't play McLaughlin, his backup point guard, on Thursday night as the Wolves blew leads of 26 and 25 points.

He did play McLaughlin on Saturday night, and McLaughlin was the most efficient offensive player on the court, as the Wolves defeated Memphis 119-118 at Target Center to even their playoff series at two games each.

Could Finch explain why he didn't play McLaughlin on Thursday?

"Sometimes," he said, "you do stupid things."

In an alternate universe, Finch did play McLaughlin in Game 3, McLaughlin provided just the kind of shooting and efficiency the Wolves needed to hold the lead, and Minnesota would be trying to close out the series in Game 5.

There's no way of knowing if McLaughlin would have had that effect in Game 3, or that if the Wolves had won Game 3 they necessarily would have won Game 4. Emotions and desperation seem to matter in this series.

What is known is that Saturday, McLaughlin, in 14 minutes, produced 16 points; made all four of his three-pointers and both of his free throws; and finished a team-best plus-6.

For Finch, it was like hiring someone to fix your Honda, and having them turn it into a Lamborghini.

Finch said that in Game 3, he found himself "going back and forth" between D'Angelo Russell and Patrick Beverley at point guard. "I regretted not playing J-Mac just because we ran out of gas," Finch said. "He was awesome tonight. He was special."

Karl-Anthony Towns was the Wolves' most productive player Saturday, producing 33 points and 14 rebounds, and forcing the action by driving to the basket effectively.

"I just did my job," he said.

And McLaughlin? "It's always what he does," Towns said. "Consummate professional. Every day he steps on the court he makes an impact. It's normal, it's routine. We need someone like him, someone who comes off the bench and dominates the game.

Towns called McLaughlin the game's MVP, and compared him to Shaun Livingston, who went from journeyman to championship stalwart when he joined Golden State.

After Towns finished speaking, McLaughlin and Anthony Edwards sat behind the mics, and Edwards said he would only answer questions about McLaughlin, also calling him the game's MVP.

Edwards said that McLaughlin and Josh Okogie are "the best teammates I've ever played with in my life."

After Game 3, McLaughlin hit the treadmill to give himself a game-like workout. "I control what I can control," he said. "I'm not able to put myself in the game. So when my name is called I have to go out there and produce, and give Coach a reason to play me."

During the regular season, McLaughlin scored 16 points just once — on March 25 against Dallas.

He made more three-pointers Saturday than he had in his previous five games combined.

"Just me staying ready," he said. "Just letting it fly. Everybody was telling me to be aggressive."

McLaughlin went from the bench to playing the best game of his NBA career, in two days.

So when Edwards moved behind the mic, he said, "J-Mac in the media! Highest plus-minus in the game.

"Wait, how am I negative-2?"

When the Wolves were collapsing and McLaughlin was sitting two nights earlier, it would have been hard to envision Edwards and Towns touting McLaughlin as an MVP, even for a game.